Naxxar trade fair: Tower builders object to Marquis’s plans

Sciclunas Estates seek one-storey commercial development with overhanging sports facilities in Trade Fair’s football ground

The high-rise developers on the former Trade Fair grounds in Naxxar are objecting to new zoning plans by Sciclunas Estates – owners of the grounds adjoining Palazzo Parisio – which they claim will prejudice their “vested rights and legitimate expectations.”

San Pawl tat-Targa Investments, a subsidiary of Virtu Holdings, are developing a 10-storey and eight-storey tower project on one part of the expansive grounds near the former trade fair.

A new zoning request by Marcus Marshall and Christianne Ramsay Pergola, heirs of the noble Marquis John Scicluna, wants a football ground currently designated as a public open space, to be used for low-rise commercial development.

The heirs want to turn over 53,500 square metres of land previously used to host the annual Trade Fair, into 29 apartment blocks – most heights will climb from one storey to six, then one block of seven storeys, three of eight storeys, and two nine-storey blocks.

The Marquis’s heirs claim full ownership of the entire site, including most of the football ground area earmarked for low-rise commercial development.

But the football ground had been included in another, approved zoning request from 2017 –  by another consortium of developers – to develop it into an open space; subsequently, the developers of the two high-rise towers, in what is now the former parking area of the trade fair, had to fork out €324,000 to the Planning Authority’s Urban Improvements Funds for the public open spaces.

The 2017 zoning permit itself covers not only the football ground but also the car park area where the PA approved the development by San Pawl tat-Targa Investment, as established by the zoning parameters of 2017. Adjacent projects now include another block of apartments towards another end of the car park.

It is the overlapping between the two zoning applications which has prompted the objection by San Pawl tat-Targa Investment.

Although the Sciclunas Estates application does not impinge directly on the tower development  which is under construction, SPTT Investment claims its rights will be impinged upon with the Sciclunas “attempting to take hold of this land by including it in their application notwithstanding that it forms part” of an already approved zoning permit.

SPTT said Sciclunas are aware of the 2017 zoning and that the company had not availed of the “available remedies” to “safeguard the rights they are alleging to have.”

The objection does not specifically state how approval of Sciclunas Estates’ masterplan for the trade fair grounds would impact on the already-approved tower development in.  But SPTT is calling on the PA to reject this application “if is deemed to conflict or affect in any way” the zoning application approved in 2017 and the high rise permit issued in 2021.