Updated | Developers’ proposal to trade floor space slammed by NGO

Din l-Art Helwa called on the government to ‘immediately and unequivocally reject’ the Malta Developers Association’s proposal

Din l-Art Helwa called on the government to reject the MDA's proposal
Din l-Art Helwa called on the government to reject the MDA's proposal

A proposal by the Malta Developers Association for floor space in village cores to be traded with payments for projects elsewhere, has been slammed by the NGO Din l-Art Helwa.

On Wednesday, a newly-established technical committee within the MDA suggested a system whereby developers could purchase the gross floor area of a property in or around village cores. This would then be offset by payments for projects elsewhere.

MDA president Sandro Chetcuti said the proposal was intended to save Malta’s town and villages cores, with Muscat saying he was not averse to the idea but stressing that it would have be studied and carefully thought out.

Reacting to the proposal Din l-Art Helwa said it was firmly opposed to the proposal, which it said was “effectively requesting the Prime Minister to facilitate construction in locations, or on scales which are currently not permitted, with the claimed objective of protecting urban conservation areas.

The NGO said that at the MDA’s annual general meeting held earlier this year, Chetcuti had “complained” that developers often face delays due to heritage concerns.

MDA denies proposal intended to facilitate construction in other locations

In a reaction, the Malta Developers Association categorically denied proposing the reassignment of building volumes from urban cores and UCAs to further facilitate construction in other locations.

“What the MDA has proposed is that in other urban areas, outside urban cores and UCAs, where the pre-2006 height relaxation extended to four floors and a penthouse, it is prepared to create a balance so that the heights of these formerly two-storey buildings will be retained and transferred to other areas where height limitation is not an issue,” the MDA said.

This, it said, was “solely in the interest of the country” in order to “keep the identity of certain towns and villages”.

“To suggest that the MDA wishes to in any way tamper with urban cores, UCAs and rural areas outside development zones is totally incorrect.”

“Now the MDA seems to be proposing that their members would stop trying to build multiple storeys in old village cores, by instead being given permission to increase construction in other parts of the island,” Din l-Art Helwa said.

“This is in itself an indictment of the ineffectiveness of the authorities that are currently entrusted with protecting our village and town cores.”

It said the proposal completely negated the basic concept of planning regulation.

“Planning laws and policies exist to safeguard the interests of the community, and develoers cannot be allowed to trade rights and reassign floor space from an area to another. The protection of village cores cannot be ‘traded’ for the disregard of existing planning policies elsewhere.”

It asked the government to immediately and unequivocally reject the proposal and to instead strengthen the protection of both urban cores and rural areas outside the development zones.

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