Planning Authority keeping high-rise developers’ ‘informal pre-submissions’ under wraps

Planning Authority will only make public individual proposals if forced to under Freedom of Information Act, official says

The new Paceville master plan specifies the number of storeys each development will be allowed
The new Paceville master plan specifies the number of storeys each development will be allowed

The Planning Authority has confirmed that the developers seeking high-rise permits for Paceville had made informal “pre-submissions” that “varied in detail”.

But the PA said these individual proposals will only be made public if the authority is forced to do so under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, official Joe Scalpello said.

The PA is keeping secret a list of submissions by the owners of nine sites whose requests for high-rise towers were included in a new master plan for Paceville. On the other, 25 submissions from residents, businessmen and environmental groups made in a public consultation have all been published online.

Indeed the new master plan specifies the number of storeys each development will be allowed, hinting at the tailor-made master plan for the interests of the owners of the nine sites, which include Portomaso, Corinthia, St George’s Park, Villa Rosa, Cresta Quay, the ITS school, and Mercury House.

Even the Tumas Group’s request to extend the Portomaso footprint with reclaimed land was “incorporated” into the master plan during its preparation by consultants Mott Macdonald, when it had already made its own separate expression of interest in 2013 for land reclamation.

It was Front Harsien ODZ representative Monique Agius who asked Scalpello directly why these submissions were not published during a meeting of parliament’s environment and planning committee.

Scalpello referred to a number of freedom of information requests asking the PA to publish the submissions made by the nine developers, which are still being assessed. MaltaToday is one of the requestors.

Villa Rosa owner Anton Camilleri was the sole developer to address the parliamentary committee. He insisted that the PA’s siting of three towers on the eastern coast of St George’s Bay, instead of his originally intended plan at Villa Rosa, was not his idea. “I did not write the plan myself. It’s now what I had originally submitted and we still have to make studies on the viability of what is proposed in the master plan.”

Camilleri’s original plan was for a 36-storey tower right in the middle of St George’s Bay, something not allowed by present local plans. Instead the master plan shifts the development to the Cresta Quay area that was once earmarked for a low-rise hotel, to provide space for three towers instead.

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