Zebbug Lidl: Central Link will ease traffic impact, transport authority says

Transport Malta gives clearance to proposed Lidl supermarket in Zebbug, claiming any traffic it will generate will be mitigated by the Central Link project in Attard

The supermarket is being proposed on the site of the SMW Cortis building on Mdina road
The supermarket is being proposed on the site of the SMW Cortis building on Mdina road

Transport Malta has given its clearance to a proposed Lidl supermarket in Zebbug, claiming any traffic it will generate will be mitigated by the Central Link project in Attard.

The supermarket is being proposed on the site of the SMW Cortis building on Mdina road.

A traffic impact assessment (TIA) concluded that “the recently approved changes to the national road network… will mitigate both the current congestion on the strategic junction adjacent to the site, and the trip generation of the development.”

The 14,000sq.m site lies between Mdina Road and Attard Road, outside the development zone.

One-third of the site is designated as an area of containment, a site where industrial development is allowed. But the project will spill over onto a significant portion of land outside development zones, to accommodate parking and road access.

The existing SMW Cortis building will be demolished to make way for the supermarket as well as surface and underground parking, and a basement-level commercial and industrial complex.

A permit issued to Joseph Cortis in 2014 had specified that the new premises be only used for “storage and distribution purposes”, limiting a proposed retail shop to 58sq.m on ground floor level.

A scheduled windmill is located on the southern periphery of the site and is surrounded on three sides by the applicant’s property. A surface car park accessed from Attard Road will be developed in the area behind the windmill.

In its submissions to the PA, Transport Malta specified that its clearance for the project is conditional on the outcome of an appeal presented by NGOs against the approval of the Central Link roads project. This means that any eventual permit for the new supermarket depends on the confirmation of the Planning Board’s decision on the Central Link.

Despite the clearance by TM, the PA board may still refuse the supermarket project for other planning reasons and the PA’s planning directorate has still to issue a case officer’s report, which would include a recommendation to approve or not approve.

The Environment and Resources Authority has objected to the uptake of ODZ land.

How Central Link will impact traffic to new supermarket

The new supermarket’s underground car park will be accessed from Attard Road while access to the loading bay will be from Mdina Road.

The TIA identifies a high risk of junction failure caused by the traffic induced by the new Lidl in the roundabout between the Mdina-Attard roads, which also attracts school traffic to localities like Mgarr. The new network will limit the direct link to the area from Attard since access to Attard Road will only be available through a left turn for traffic from a westerly direction. It also foresees the Central Link thoroughfare becoming more attractive for car trips between the south-east of the island, and a reduction in traffic along the narrower Mdina road.

Moreover trips north of the Central Link would either travel towards Rabat and enter Mdina Road from the roundabout near Triq ta’ Cawla, or travel to Mriehel and turn around a new roundabout to come back to the Central Link and turn left to Attard Road. This would result in a 30% decrease in traffic along the critical junction.

The report says that with the Central Link in place the junction is expected to perform satisfactorily till 2025. The report concludes that although the transport impact of the new supermarket is significant, the new road infrastructure will mitigate both the current congestion on the strategic network and the trips generated by the development. The report also notes an “edge of town supermarket” like the proposed Lidl will necessarily cater for “car-based shopping”.

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