Green NGO blasts ‘corruption of planning’ as six storeys approved above old Sliema house

Planning Authority approves six storeys of apartments over 18th century house by the Sliema Ferries, Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar accuses PA of acting as a 'developers' facilitator' 

The Planning Authority has approved the construction of six storeys of flats on the 18th century Sliema house (right)
The Planning Authority has approved the construction of six storeys of flats on the 18th century Sliema house (right)

Environmental NGO Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar has lambasted the “corruption of planning systems” after the Planning Authority approved the construction of six storeys of apartments over a 19th century house on the Sliema seafront.

The PA gave its seal of approval to the development on St Vincent Street – by the Sliema ferries - despite the fact that the development application had been recommended for refusal by the PA’s case officer, sanitary officer and cultural heritage officer.

FAA coordinator Astrid Vella accused the PA of abandoning its role as a planning regulator to serve as a “developers’ facilitator”

She warned that the PA’s decision foes against Malta’s sanitary law, which limits the height of buildings in narrow streets in order to ensure minimal standards of light and air to surrounding homes.

“Tall buildings in narrow streets also trap toxic emissions which contribute to the fact that 14% of Malta’s health problems are due to environmental factors,” she said. “However, a top PA official had publicly admitted that the planning boards had blatantly ignored this police law. The situation has now been spun out of control due to the deluge of planning regulations issued in quick succession by this government which have corrupted every notion of good planning in allowing PA board members to base decisions on ‘existing context’. This effectively means that developers can now us abusive permits to justify more damaging permits.”

Vella recounted how the Chamber of Planners had recently lambasted the PA for regularly “laying the canvas to carry forth the interests of small powerful lobby groups, leaving vague lacunas in between and modifying legislative frameworks to weaken counterchecks and concentrating decision-making to a handful of people.”

“Since this case contravened both recent law and legislated regulations one asks, why is the public paying millions in salaries for many hard-working and honest PA employees when the Boards are taking the ‘anything goes’ approach to continue the uglification of Malta?  We might as well disband the Planning Authority since its motto has been reduced to ‘anarchy rules’.”

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