Msida council objects to ‘excessive’ Swatar development plans

In a first shot from the opposition to the massive construction project, the Msida council hit out at 'excessive' plans for the area

Owners have presented plans which envisage over 11,000sq.m of commercial development, 31,500sq.m of mixed residential and commercial development, and 16,000sq.m of purely residential development on the 123,000sq.m site
Owners have presented plans which envisage over 11,000sq.m of commercial development, 31,500sq.m of mixed residential and commercial development, and 16,000sq.m of purely residential development on the 123,000sq.m site

The Msida local council is objecting to the proposed height limitation of seven floors on Swatar farmland added to the development zones in 2006.

In a first shot from the opposition to the massive construction project, the Msida council said that under current planning laws, this would translate into nine floors and a recessed floor, which it deemed “excessive” for the area.

The height limitation was proposed in a zoning application presented by the various owners of the site. The local plan stipulates that the Planning Authority should prepare a development brief for the area before development by private owners is considered. But a spokesperson for the PA told MaltaToday that it has no intention of issuing such a zoning plan for public consultation and will instead consider the zoning application presented by the owners of the site.

Owners have presented plans which envisage over 11,000sq.m of commercial development, 31,500sq.m of mixed residential and commercial development, and 16,000sq.m of purely residential development on the 123,000sq.m site.

The landowners include S.C. & Co Limited, PD Finance Limited, Paul Vella’s P&S Ltd, Anton Camilleri’s Camcas Ltd, MDA president Sandro Chetcuti, entrepreneur James Barbara and several other individual owners, including the Lands Authority.

In a document penned by architect William Lewis, the Msida council questioned the compatibility of tall buildings with the surroundings, noting that the neighbouring development clusters have a height limitation of three and four floors, and the proposed height will be higher than that of Mater Dei hospital and the university across the road.

Moreover the area lies atop a valley. “The visual implications of such proposed height limitation will be stark and considered detrimental to the nature of the area.”

The Msida council is also insisting that green spaces should take the form of “communal outdoor space”. Plans submitted by the developers indicate that 22.1% (27,139sq.m) of the site will be designated as green spaces. But as mapped out, the designated green spaces are “elongated in shape and form, implying that most of this area will simply consist of front gardens.”

The council described such spaces as a “semi-public domain”, and insisted that development be guided by the Spatial Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED) according to which “urban areas should provide a safe living environment supported by the provision of adequate social and community facilities, green modes of travel together with a thriving business community.”

The council is also asking for clarifications regarding the future of rustic buildings which have architectural features worthy of protection as well as on “existing protected trees and shrubbery” also located within the area.

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