Developers want 29 apartment blocks on Naxxar trade fair

New plans propose fewer but higher buildings 


New plans have been presented in a zoning application for the development of 29 apartment blocks on the former trade fair site in Naxxar. 

Although the new masterplan envisages fewer buildings than those proposed in 2019, at least two of the blocks will rise to nine floors. 

The 2019 masterplan made provisions for 47 blocks of between one to six floors high. The new plan seeks the green light for 29 blocks over a smaller footprint, leaving more space for landscaped areas. 

However, the new plan also foresees development that is also considerably higher, with two blocks of nine storeys each, three blocks of eight storeys, and one block of seven storeys. The other blocks vary from a height of between one storey and six. 

The development is being proposed by Sciclunas Estates, heirs of the Marquis John Scicluna, the landowners who also run the Palazzo Parisio stately home and gardens. Back in 2019, the comapny filed a planning control application to set building heights and zoning for the 53,550sq.m site that used to house the annual trade fair. 

Commercial facilities at ground floor level are proposed in five of the blocks, with overlying sports facilities at roof level. A four-storey hotel is also being proposed on the eastern flank of the site, which borders the Palazzo Parisio gardens. 

While the highest blocks are being proposed along the axial central walkway route of the old trade fair grounds, lower blocks will be sited at the interface with Naxxar’s urban conservation area, presumably to create a terracing effect. 

The plan envisages a new vehicular road, from the intersection of Triq Santa Marija and Triq il-Gwiedja, and circling the northern part of the site around the proposed sports facilities, and continuing in the direction of a car park. 

The zoning application, which includes the masterplan drafted by architect Edwin Mintoff, is meant to establish the planning parameters for future development on the site, which would still need subsequent development permits. 


Local plan limits development to four floors 

The local plan approved in 2006 sets a limit of 116,250sq.m to the gross floor area which can be approved in the area. 

While limiting buildings to four floors, the local plan foresees buildings on five floors in the north-western part of the site “only if this is required in order to retain a total developable residential floor-space of 116,250sq.m.” 

A penthouse level is also permitted “provided that this will not impinge on important views.” This means that the maximum height allowed on the site is that of six floors. 

The local plan specifically states that the development should not “create over-sized monolithic or high building blocks” but should consist of small built volumes with inter-connected well landscaped terraces and passageways that will, in time, “soften the mass of the blocks”. 


Naxxar under pressure 

The Planning Authority has already approved 136 apartments in two blocks of eight and ten floors on the site of the former trade fair’s parking area. The project proposed by SPTT Properties Limited is expected to create 2,350 new car trips from and towards the new development. Additionally, 64 apartments and seven penthouses have also been approved on a field by Pjazza Celsi. 

The PA is still considering another zoning application for a new road system, proposed by Brian Azzopardi in 2018, to serve as “potential residential development” on a 12,031sq.m site located north and east of the trade fair grounds and to the west by Triq Santa Marija characterised by an old pigeon loft tower, the high rubble wall of the Palazzo Parisio country estate, and a baroque-era farmhouse.