Cottonera rejoices as AUM extension is rejected by Planning Authority board

Plans for students' residence in Bormla for the American University have been rejected by the Planning Authority

The Planning Authority board has turned down the proposed American University of Malta (AUM) extension in Bormla as the developers refused to budge from plans submitted in the application.

In a hall packed with Cottonera residents objecting to the project, all PA board members voted against the application, with the crowd chanting ‘viva l-Isla, viva l-Kottonera’ as well as thanking board members for their decision.

In a previous sitting, the board had indicated that it would vote to turn down the project, overturning the case officer’s recommendation to have it approved. No new plans addressing the concerns of the board were presented by the AUM.

Architect Edwin Mintoff insisted that the project should go ahead as originally planned. He insisted that the development was according to policy and therefore should be approved. He also cited the parliamentary resolution granting the land to the Sadeen Group in 2015, which was based on the masterplan approved in 2005. 

While acknowledging that the proposed dormitory was higher than envisaged in the masterplan, Mintoff pointed out that as suggested by a case officer, a separate application would be presented at a later stage. He also protested to the fact that during the past four years no concerns were expressed by the Planning Authority on the proposed development.

PA Chairman Vince Cassar said that a significant amount of time had passed since 2015 and that the heritage aspect had to be protected more than ever. “We gave you a chance to present new plans, but you insisted on sticking to the original plans... Therefore I have no choice but to call for a final vote,” Cassar said.

To the applause of residents, Labour MP and government representative on the PA board Clayton Bartolo insisted that the visual impact on St Michael’s fort was unacceptable. “It is elementary that nobody builds in front of the bastions,” he said.

NGO representative Annick Bonello also insisted that the project was against the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development (SPED) which overruled all other policies.

Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar reacts

Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar has welcomed the PA’s decision on the proposed development.

“Flimkien għal Ambjent Ahjar extends a big round of applause to the Planning Board, for ensuring that an important part of Maltese Heritage has been safeguarded from rampant development, which would not benefit the Cottonera community in any way at all, but serve only to line the pockets of a chosen few,” a statement read.

FAA also congratulated the residents for their resilience in opposing the project.

“Our communities no longer stand by like sheep and watch helplessly. We do not accept the theft of our heritage to enrich businesses who give no added value as a return to the communities they plunder,” the statement concluded.

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