Sliema ferries car park still on the cards

The Government has opted to apply to renew the original permit for the construction of an underground car park at the Sliema ferries.

As proposed: the Sliema ferries car park and overground rehabilitation
As proposed: the Sliema ferries car park and overground rehabilitation

After being shelved following the 2013 general election for being too expensive, the Government is now seeking the renewal of a permit for the construction of an underground car park at the Sliema ferries.

The permit issued in 2012 would have expired had the Government not chosen to apply for its renewal.

The 200-vehicle car park – a pet project of former PN minister George Pullicino – was meant to alleviate parking problems along the Strand.

A spokesperson for Planning and Transport Minister Ian Borg confirmed that the Government has opted to apply to renew the original permit.

“No changes have been affected to the approved drawings” and “the proposal will be subjected to the normal course of any PA application of a similar nature,” a spokesperson confirmed.

No details were given on how the new car park will be managed. The Sliema Local Council has repeatedly called for the devolution of public car parks in the locality.

Replying to a question in parliament by George Pullicino in April 2013, former transport minister Joe Mizzi had announced that the car park did not fall within the Government’s immediate priorities. The reason given for shelving the project was that the cost estimate exceeded 60% of the original projection.

The project was approved by the PA in December 2012.

€3.5 million of the €7 million needed for the project was to come from the Planning Authority’s commuted parking payment scheme.

One particular difficulty faced by the project is that the Sliema ferries are located on reclaimed land and the area is renowned for flooding problems.

Asked by MaltaToday in 2012 how an underground parking was being proposed on reclaimed land, minister George Pullicino replied that the government entrusted a renowned marine engineer for this project, Joe Bugeja, who has designed and constructed maritime works both locally and overseas.

The target date for the completion of the project was set for April 2013.

The proposal also included the removal of existing parking landscape areas, excavation works, construction of an underground car park and an overlying landscaped deck area. The parking was to be located below a landscaped garden, and included a steel superstructure feature held by steel cables mimicking a sailing ship, as well as two 20-square-metre hexagonal kiosks. The garden was to have featured fountains, the current war memorial, a monument dedicated to Sliema Wanderers football player Tony Nicholl and another to sculptor Censu Apap.

The site is presently divided into two parts: about half of it is used as a parking lot, while the other half is landscaped. The site also incorporates 39 on-street car parking spaces.

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