For the first time, PA set to turn down a high rise

Tomorrow the Planning Authority is set to refuse a high-rise 12-storey development instead of the Meli Bugeja marble factory in Qormi

The Meli Bugeja marble factory is situated just off the Mriehel Bypass
The Meli Bugeja marble factory is situated just off the Mriehel Bypass

Tomorrow the Planning Authority is set to refuse a high-rise 12-storey development instead of the Meli Bugeja marble factory in Qormi, next to a historic windmill. This will make the Qormi development the first one to be rejected according to the policy approved in 2014.

The reason given by the PA is that the applicants failed to prove that the proposal is eligible to qualify for additional storeys over and above local plan limits through the Floor Area Ratio policy. The policy does not set clear boundaries for the locations where high-rise and medium-rise developments can take place. But the policy identifies nearby Mriehel and Marsa as localities where the policy can be applied. The PA may also consider medium-rise developments of up to 10 floors on over 4000sq.m sites in other localities but only following a development brief.

The new 12-storey building was set to rise to the 43-metre building height limit which is close to the maximum height for medium-rise buildings (42.5m).

The application was set for refusal after the applicant “failed to provide a detailed justification” to demonstrate it is eligible for tall buildings according to the FAR policy.

In this way, even before the completion of traffic and visual impact studies, the proposal will be nipped in the bud.

In the application presented one year ago, the developers also proposed the excavation for a three-storey underground parking and the construction of a 12-storey high building (c. 43m high) over a 1,070sq.m footprint. The building was to consist of office spaces and a cafeteria at the ground-floor level. A public open space and a road surrounding the building with a turning area towards one end were also proposed.

Since the approval of the FAR policy, the Planning Authority has approved five high-rise developments in Gzira, St Julian’s, Mriehel and Sliema. Of these, the townsquare development was over-ruled by the Review Tribunal, which revoked the permit.  The Qormi application is set to become the first application to be immediately shot down by the Planning board.

 

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