Higher buildings proposed at Manoel Island

Plans submitted by MIDI in September foresee an additional four metres in height on most apartment blocks facing the new yacht marina overlooking Ix-Xatt Ta’ Xbiex

The Manoel Island development as proposed last year from the Ta' Xbiex side
The Manoel Island development as proposed last year from the Ta' Xbiex side

Buildings on the Ta’ Xbiex side of Manoel Island could rise to four floors instead of three if plans submitted by developers are approved.

The new plans submitted last September propose that buildings overlooking the yacht marina will rise to 18.5 metres, an increase of four metres over previous drawings.

Original plans submitted in September 2017 foresaw that most buildings facing the yacht marina on the Ta’ Xbiex side would have a height of 14.5 meters.

The latest plans do not envisage any take-up of more land from that identified last year.

Additionally, some buildings facing the Gżira water front and which overlook an area identified for land reclamation, have been removed.

Manoel Island forms part of the MIDI project that includes Tigne Point.

MIDI has also presented new plans to preserve the old bridge by retaining it in its place as a viewing platform for passers-by while a new bridge will provide access for cars from a new roundabout junction in Gżira.

The developers have also presented a separate application for land reclamation on the coastline between Manoel Island and Gżira using inert material produced by excavations created by the project. No development has so far been proposed in this area.

According to  Claire Bonello, a member of the Manoel Island Foundation, any changes to  heights should represent the shifting of volumes from different parts of the project to other parts.

This, she said, would mean that some building blocks will be removed from certain areas and compensated for by volumes which are added elsewhere.

New Photomontages should provide a visual representation of the changes being made, Bonello said.

"As far as I am concerned I will obviously insist on the terms of the Guardianship Agreement that Manoel Island is a permanently low-rise site," Bonellos said. 

"In fact, the NGOs Friends of Manoel Island has filed a submission to this effect to ensure that the community at large is never short changed or deprived of open space and accessibility as may have happened due to concessions granted in the past."

The new plans represent a change from the scale of development assessed in photomontages that formed part of the Environmental Impact Assessment. They would represent an intensification of development overlooking Ta’ Xbiex and a reduced impact on views from Gżira.

Commenting on the application on Facebook, former AD chairperson Arnold Cassola decried the lack of consultation over the recent changes in the proposed height of the project.

An EIA presented in May had assessed the visual impact of the proposed 610 new apartments on Manoel Island. The study had concluded that views from Ta’ Xbiex would have already obscured all medium- and long-distance views of the Gżira and Sliema front from this location.

Contributing to the visual impact were the new buildings proposed as part of the Marina Village, the new bridge connection to the mainland and the development of the area presently occupied by the so called ‘Duck Village’ and the Gżira football ground.

The proposal assessed in the EIA represented an increase in the number of residential units but a decrease of 8,000 sq.m in the total gross floor area of the project when compared to the 1999-approved masterplan.

The project also includes a 5-star hotel located in the Lazzaretto complex, an 8,449 sq.m retail complex, a marina for 183 berths and 3,695 sq.m allocated for sports facilities.

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