St Paul’s bay council objects to 13 storey tower on Xemxija garigue

St Paul’s Bay council approved mayor’s motion which also calls on government to buy Xemxija land earmarked for high rise

The St Paul’s Bay local council has approved a motion by locality mayor Alfred Grima to object to a 13 storey high rise development  being  on a 14,000 sq.m of garigue land on Xemxija hill  which has been left undeveloped for the past decades despite being included in development zones.

The large plot of land is in fact surrounded by development on three sides, effectively serving as an open space in a heavily urbanised area.

The project along Triq il-Maqdes Neolitiku  is being proposed by  Chetgau Ltd a company owned by Yvette Chetcuti - spouse of former MDA chairman Sandro Chetcuti - and Francis Gauci. Is set to accommodate 282 apartments.

In its objection the council is calling on the government to consider buying the land or a part of it to retain it as an open space for the benefit of the community.

According to the plans, the new building will occupy nearly half of the 14,000sq. site. The rest of the site is earmarked for a picnic area, and a kids play area.

Part of the site is designated as an Area of Archaeological Importance due to the presence of cart ruts. The submitted plans refer to archaeological ruins in the area which will be preserved.

The company does not own the entire site but declared it has permission from the owners to develop the land. But six owners  who claim owning half the land, have already contested this declaration. They have denied giving consent to the development, and formally requested the Planning Authority to remove their land from the application.

The development is being proposed a short distance away from another high-rise project being proposed by developer Charles Camilleri on the site of the former Corinthia Mistra village.

The Camilleri development which includes 774 apartments was approved in breach of a policy which bans the erection of high-rise developments on ridges and the decision is currently being reviewed by the Environment and Planning Tribunal after it was revoked by the law courts. The site has already been excavated despite the pending appeal.

If approved, the two developments are bound to exacerbate traffic problems in the area particularly, on the roundabout at the top of Xemxija Hill. In 2013, Transport Malta had already warned that the road is already straining to cope with the existing flow of traffic.  Any alternative bypass would potentially have a huge impact on the protected rural environment in the north of Malta.