St Julian’s nine-storey tower near Regional Road tunnels set for refusal

Landowner wants to rezone Regional Road public open space for two blocks of nine storeys but PA set to refuse request

A landowner attempting to rezone a 2,700sq.m plot of St Julian’s land from public open space, to allow residential and commercial development, is set to be rebuffed by the Planning Authority.

Carmelo Borg’s land was once earmarked for a 24-storey hotel in an application by the Tumas Group, which was later withdrawn.

Borg now wants his land, designated as a public open space by the local plan, rezoned. A final decision by the PA’s Executive Council is expected on 7 February, but the case officer has concluded that rezoning will be against existing policies and should be refused.

The site is located besides the Mikiel Anton Vassalli Bridge, further uphill from the St Julian’s valley road that leads down to Spinola Bay, and is access from the road leading from the left-hand side of the Triq MA Vassalli tunnels (regional road).

The zoning request is for  5,226sq.m of residential development, 3,048sq.m of retail development and 1,536q.m of office development, spread into two separate blocks, one of five storeys and another of nine storeys, with 500sq.m of public pedestrian area, three underground levels of parking, as well as an underground sports complex and pool.

But the case officer made it clear that the PA can only consider “minor modifications” to the local plan, which is not the case in rezoning such a space into a commercial development, that would intensify density, loss of open spaces, and have an adverse visual impact all in breach of the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development.

Transport Malta had also objected to the application in 2021 because this would prejudice future highway upgrading, which runs counter to North Harbour Local Plan policy NHTR 09, prohibiting development that adversely affects junction redesign requirements.