Rules for Ta’ Qali rezoning lacking in proper studies, architects’ chamber warns

PA plans to allow supermarkets, storage facilities, medical clinics and educational facilities Ta’ Qali rezoning plan

The review concerns a 60,000 sq.m area situated next to the US Embassy, proposing to designate the land as a commercial zone for four-storey buildings
The review concerns a 60,000 sq.m area situated next to the US Embassy, proposing to designate the land as a commercial zone for four-storey buildings

Malta’s chamber of architects has lambasted a review of Ta’ Qali’s planning rules, which it said was “premature and lacking in proper studies”.

In September, the Planning Authority published its proposals for a Partial Review of the Ta’ Qali Action Plan.

The review concerns an area of approximately 60,000 square metres located adjacent to the Embassy of the United States, and proposes to designate such land as a commercial area, with an overall building height of 17.5 metres.

But the chamber said that allowing intensification was not the solution to the PA’s claim that the existing industrial use is redundant, and that the proposals appear to be directed more towards appeasing a major private landowner and facilitating their interests than achieving any planning gains or safeguarding the national interest and that of the public at large.

READ MORE | Proposed Ta’ Qali retail hub breaches PA’s supermarket policy

The Ta’ Qali area is not designated as an urban area and, in fact, lies outside development zones. But the area already hosts retail developments. Although the area is presently zoned for industrial development, the Big Mat DIY establishment was issued a permit in 2015 because the showroom and office space were deemed to occupy a smaller percentage of the whole site, which belongs to Attard Bros. In 2016, Attard Bros presented an application to extend the retail establishment which is still pending.

The document, which is undergoing a second round of public consultation, allows supermarkets, medical clinics, educational facilities, offices, retail, food and drink establishments and storage facilities among the allowable uses.

The demand to include supermarkets, storage facilities, medical clinics and educational facilities was made in a submission made by Attard Bros and Nectar Ltd. Requests by owners of businesses on adjacent sites to be included in the new commercial zone, were rejected.

“Across the developed world, out-of-town commercial centres are largely being abandoned in favour of rehabilitated inner-city or urban facilities. These reinforce the desirability of city living and cut down on the vehicular traffic and the attendant pollution and traffic congestion that are inevitably caused by large regional commercial developments located outside the urban area,” the KTP (Kamra tal-Periti) said.

“One of the justifications presented in favour of the proposals is that the site has outlived its usefulness in the industrial context. Whilst recognising that it would, perhaps, be unrealistic to hope for the area to be returned to its undeveloped state, the general area is earmarked as a rural area and the Ta’ Qali National Recreation Centre, which includes no commercial hubs but only the existing enterprise areas.

“The area should therefore be redeveloped into uses that are complementary to the sports facilities around the National Stadium, and to the adjacent Park tal-Familja. The emphasis on commercial development is questioned in this regard, as is the extent to which the public interest and that of the environment in general were considered.”

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