Architects urge PA for urban regeneration of Hal Mula

The Chamber of Architects has said that urban regeneration is the only solution to address the issues caused by mixed land uses in Hal Mula

Hal Mula is characterised by a long history of mixed developments resulting in an interlocking of varying conflicting land uses
Hal Mula is characterised by a long history of mixed developments resulting in an interlocking of varying conflicting land uses

The Chamber of Architects has said that urban regeneration is the only solution to address the issues around the Hal Mula area of Zebbug as a result of its mixed land uses.

Ħal Mula is characterised by a long history of mixed developments resulting in an interlocking of varying conflicting land uses.

In planning parameters proposed in February, the Planning Authority aimed to address these issues by seeking to ‘do away’ with the mixed-use zoning approach, and creating more specific character areas.

“Future proposed development which is of an industrial or commercial nature will be considered outside a number of predominantly residential dwelling areas,” the PA had said.

The plan also proposed that a number of other areas would be retained specifically as industrial areas, in-line with the original 1988 zoning.

“This is to ensure the continuity of the industrial function in the area with the incentive to redevelop from industrial to commercial,” the PA had added.

However, in its comments submitted during the public consultation of the partial review of the 2006 South Malta Local Plan, the chamber claimed that “it appears difficult to resolve these solely through a review of the Local Plan, particularly since legally permitted operations will continue to exist until such time as the owner decides to redevelop the property in question.”

The chamber lamented that the proposed amendments to the Local Plan to not contribute to achieving the goal set by Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED) to ensure that “sectoral policies, activities and inputs are integrated and coordinated with each other.”

The chamber also held that the discord between the residents and industrialists is primarily a result of lack of enforcement of other regulations. “There is clearly a dichotomy between the principles which planning policy intends to achieve in this area, and what is happening in actual fact on the ground as a result of lack of adherence to operational regulations, health and safety regulations and other issues related to congestion, parking, cleansing and operating times,” the chamber said.

It said that the government must urgently undertake a comprehensive study of the existing situation, to ensure that all activities in the area are in accordance with all relevant regulations and to increase monitoring and enforcement in the area, with the aim of safeguarding the residents’ interests and also those of the economic operators.

The chamber insisted that the only planning mechanism that can address the area’s issues was holistic and comprehensive urban regeneration.

“In proposing an amended plan for the area, the Planning Authority and government have acknowledged the dire need for regeneration of this area,” the chamber concluded. “Therefore, the continued issuance of permits in this area on the basis of the current Local Plan which will only serve to exacerbate the current problems should be curbed.”

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