Mriehel masterplan at least two years away, Transport Malta officer tells Court

A senior officer at Transport Malta testified that a masterplan for Mriehel would take at least another two years to finalise, despite the fact that the area has been changed into a traffic-generating enterprise hub

A masterplan for Mriehel has not yet been drawn up and Transport Malta was in fact at least two years away from finalising such a plan, a senior officer with the authority testified in Court.

David Sutton – testifying in court in an appeal instituted by eNGOs Flimkien għal  Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth, Ramblers Association and Qui si-Sana Tigne Residents’ Association against the decision to grant a permit for the development of four high-rise buildings in Mriehel – confirmed that a masterplan for the area has not been implemented or finalised to date. 

He said that a masterplan would take at least another two years to finalise, despite the fact that the area has been changed into a traffic-generating enterprise hub.

In a statement, the eNGOs noted that the high-rise development in Mriehel would be completed before a masterplan was in place, further straining the junctions at the traffic lights by the MFSA and the Mriehel secondary school which are already operating beyond capacity. 

“Lack of proper and timely planning will only result in further congestion and traffic mayhem which the eNGOs vow to challenge at every turn,” they said.

The Mriehel development will in total include four tower blocks of 15, 17, 19, and 14 storeys, organised around a central piazza, and sitting on top of five basement levels. Elevated walkways and bridges will connect the four towers.

The project is to include a 975 sq.m supermarket, an 840 sq.m gym, a 700 sq.m showroom, 1,155 square metres of retail facilities, 930 square metres for conference facilities and an additional 1,000 square metres for retail.

The Tumas and Gasan groups want to target companies operating primarily within the financial services sector that want to have their offices in the four towers, apart from providing a massive supermarket, a childcare centre and retail shops. Plans earmark a floor space of 33,000 square metres for office space. 

The erection of four high-rise towers at Mriehel is expected to result in a daily increase of 1,362 cars a day passing from Triq l-Imdina, according to the Environment Impact Statement on the impact of the proposed towers by Tumas and Gasan Groups. 

Traffic is set to increase by 4% on the west part of Mdina Road (an extra 694 cars) and by a staggering 20% along Triq il-Merghat (an extra 668 cars). In total this would result in an extra daily 2,724 cars along the three roads. 

The policy on tall buildings approved by the government in 2014 states clearly that high-rise developments must provide all car-parking requirements on site. Whenever this is not technically possible these should provide parking facilities not more than 250 metres away from the site of the development. 

However, studies showed that the project would result in a parking shortfall of 498 parking spaces, which would be in breach of policy. 

The Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) justified this under-provision of parking spaces by the commitment taken by the developer to encourage alternative models of transport as part of the requirements for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. 

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