Chamber of Architects: Laudable Paceville masterplan marred by ‘serious flaws’

Chamber of Architects says Paceville masterplan is ‘step forward’ but was designed to accommodate previously-determined projects

The Chamber of Architects has welcomed the Paceville masterplan but said that a number of flaws diminishes the efforts for a long-term plan.

The chamber said that independently of the content or approach, the masterplan is commendable because it sets out a strategy for growth and for the regeneration of the area.

“The fact that Government and the Planning Authority have appreciated that the drawing up of a comprehensive study is the best route to follow, augurs well for the future. Nevertheless, it is important that the planning exercise undertaken provides the sufficient level of detail and analysis required, and is carried out in tandem with other serious national planning issues such as transport and infrastructural requirements,” the chamber said.

The chamber has submitted its formal response to the Planning Authority as part of the ongoing public consultation process.

Welcoming the extension of pedestrianised areas, the chamber said “the provision of open landscaped public spaces is laudable and the concept of preserving and valorising the heritage assets in the area is certainly a sound one.”

However, it warned that “it is a pity, therefore, that a laudable effort to “see the bigger picture” in a long-term perspective is diminished by a number of serious flaws in the Framework. The exercise seems to have degenerated into a justification of previously-determined development volumes, in previously determined locations.”

It pointed out that ‘the quantum of development proposed at Paceville’ is accommodated but never challenged.

“Consequently, the “iconic skyline” is taken as an assumed desiderata. The urban design principles which are promoted in the document are of top quality, but the same principles seem to be contradicted by the scale of development proposed – which is never justified.”

Moreover, the chamber said, the document makes reference to community facilities under the impressive heading of “social sustainability”, but nowhere is there any indication of what facilities would be provided.

The document refers to “preserving the inheritance of local traditions” but makes no mention of what these traditions are.

The chamber also question whether social cohesion is the result of entrepreneurship and the tourism industry.
“This argument is highly debatable. Tourism is certainly not the best tool to foster social cohesion – on the contrary, it tends to erode community relationships, and hence social cohesion. In addition, development which emphasises social disparity does not strengthen cohesion.”

The masterplan is also crippled by the lack of social research and the judgmental propositions, the chamber said, adding that the failure to consult residents and economic operators of Paceville, is a serious defect.

On the controversial expropriation of private land and property, the chamber said that the masterplan is highly discriminatory, “focusing primarily on business interests that are already public – whilst not considering possible future developments of a similar or smaller scale elsewhere.”

The chamber also said that the transport strategy is flawed because it only addressed transport within the plan area and does not offer a coordinated approach taking into account access to and from Paceville.

While stressing that it is not contrary to the development of tall buildings, the chamber said it cannot accept the absolute absence of any justification of either the volume, or the location of such tall buildings, and the fact that the authors appear to have assumed that the provision of such structures are the only solution to an ‘attractive, safe, efficient and environmental (sic) friendly place, where people live, work, play, and interact…..’.

It also said that the proposed development poses significant environmental concerns in terms of sustainability, material resources and waste generation which are not adequately address within the document.