Floriana Pinetum gardens to be turned into ‘family-friendly’ destination

Social ministry’s agency to develop children’s play area and cafeteria, with park management operation

A government agency under the remit of the ministry for social policy is eyeing Floriana’s Pinetum Garden, a 60,000sq.m urban green space, for a new upgrade.

According to plans by Social Innovative Projects Management, an agency falling under the remit of social policy minister Michael Falzon, the primary goal to turn the urban green area into a “family-friendly destination while ensuring the safety and well-being of visitors”.

The plan is to erect a 1.5-metre high perimeter fence around the green space that is nestled between Pietà, Haywharf, Portes des Bombes, and Triq l-Indipendenza.

The area is favoured for long walks along the harbour towns, developed as it is around the historic military glacis built on the way to Valletta. But the pinetum is also seen as a cruising area for sexual hook-ups that may now be targeted for regulation, with designated entrance and exit gates that will allow the park to be closed during non-operational hours.

SIPM’s project statement claims the fencing is meant to improve the safety of children who will be using the new facilities in an area surrounded by high-traffic roads.

Two types of fencing will be used: a sturdy wrought-iron railing along the parameter to prevent unauthorized access and the passage of unauthorised vehicles, and a more aesthetically pleasing wrought-iron and franka stone fencing for specific areas of the park, such as the bastions.

The rehabilitation project includes several other interventions aimed at enhancing the park’s overall appeal and functionality, with a general clean-up and tree pruning to maintain the health and aesthetics of the garden. No trees will be removed, and an environmental permit will be obtained for the necessary tree pruning activities.

New pathways will be created to improve accessibility, allowing individuals in wheelchairs and those with reduced mobility to navigate the park with ease. Public amenities such as benches, trash receptacles, and recreational areas will be installed to enhance the visitor experience.

Adequate lighting will be installed to improve safety during night-time hours, while CCTV systems will be implemented to enhance security. Solar-powered bollards will be placed around the Nissen huts and picnic areas, ensuring sustainable lighting solutions that are environmentally friendly.

The project includes the restoration of six Nissen huts within the garden. These will be repurposed into community spaces, including a botanical garden, a horticultural centre, an aviary, and a cafeteria. SIPM said “the addition of a cafeteria will contribute to local economic development by providing job opportunities and attracting visitors who may spend time in the surrounding community.”

The chosen steel grating pathways, while not directly coherent with the existing semi-natural aspect of the garden, are expected to blend with the surrounding terrain over time as they fill with organic material.

The Pinetum Garden is home to several historically significant features such as the Grade 1 military glacis, lunette, and covered way lunette near Portes des Bombes, stands as an extraordinary historical and natural landmark. The rehabilitation project ensures these features are preserved and integrated into the garden’s overall design.

The wooded area was safeguarded from development more than 90 years ago when the British colonial government passed the Portes Des Bombes Area (Preservation) Act in 1933.

The law was intended to safeguard the green open space, which is one of the few remaining green areas in the harbour area. The law states that no development should be allowed in the area.