ERA objects to San Gwann supermarkets, residents warn of traffic congestion

The Environment and Resources Authority is objecting to the proposed development of two supermarkets on a 7,000sq.m site on the Tal-Balal road near San Gwann

The Environment and Resources Authority is objecting to the proposed development of two supermarkets on a 7,000sq.m site on the Tal-Balal road near San Gwann.

The site lies outside development boundaries.

The two adjacent supermarkets are being proposed by JDG Holdings, a company owned by Joseph Cassar, instead of a site currently occupied by the Kwikmix concrete plant along the recently widened Tal-Balal road, opposite the small chapel of St Philip and St James.  

As proposed, the development includes an extensive underground car park below the two supermarkets. The supermarkets, set to be developed over one level, will rise to a maximum of 7.3 metres and separated by a landscaped area, each occupying 1,400 sq.m of land.

The proposed development does not occupy the site of the actual batching plant, which is actually located further inside the rural area, but is described as the batching plant’s “port”.

The ERA warned that the development will result in further urban sprawl and the proliferation and intensification of urban development outside the building zones, setting an undesirable precedent for future development.  

While objecting to the development, the ERA asked the developers to commence environment impact studies, including traffic studies.

The NGO Wirt San Gwann is also objecting to this application due to the proximity of the development to the tal-Propostu Chapel.

It warned that the development would exacerbate the traffic situation near St Michael’s Foundation Senior School, which lies directly opposite the entrance to the proposed supermarkets.

The NGO warned that traffic will “slow down to a snail’s space” once vehicles in the direction of San Gwann to Naxxar would have to pass in front of the supermarkets entrance in order to access St Michael’s school on the other side of the road through the Tal-Balal roundabout.

The road is already heavily frequented by trucks coming and going to quarries, ready-mix and bitmac plants.

While replacing a part of the unsightly industrial development, the development of supermarkets in the area will contribute to an urban sprawl in the open gap between San Gwann, Gharghur and Naxxar.  

The land identified for the development of the two supermarkets is still subject to a planning enforcement dating back to 2010 for illegal additions to the batching plant, including the building of a store and the excavation of the site. An application to regularise these irregularities was withdrawn in April 2018.

San Gwann already has a Lidl supermarket located in the vicinity of the parish church, further down the road. The Savemart supermarket is located at the edge of the Tal-Balal area, a short distance from the proposed supermarkets.  

The PA’s retail policy recommends the development of supermarkets either in town centres or at the edge of towns, and obliges developers to submit a retail impact assessment to ensure that new supermarkets do not shift business from existing ones in town centres.

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