Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar welcomes restoration measures in Budget 2012

Measures in Budget 2012 to encourage renovation of scheduled properties welcomed by Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar but concerns are expressed regarding Housing Authority schemes.

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) said it welcomed budget measures encouraging the restoration and renovation of scheduled properties but expressed concerns that housing measures may increase the number of vacant properties in Malta.

“FAA has long called for a re-direction of the construction industry towards the restoration of our deteriorating architectural heritage,” the FAA said.  

Rental subsidies and tax rebates to encourage private owners to rent to those who would otherwise rely on government housing are to be part of schemes to be launched by the Housing Authority.

“While this is intended to reduce the demand for more social housing, such an aim would only be realised through the outright purchase of such properties by Government. This would avoid the building of more housing units in addition to the 76,000 vacant properties we already have,” the FAA pointed out.

In 2018, Valletta is to be showcased to the world as an “architectural jewel” according to FAA and it was for this reason the FAA expressed support of exemptions on transfer duties to help resolve inheritance issues, rebates of 20% on restoration works and lower taxes on income from rent for restored properties to help upgrade Malta’s conservation areas, environment and jobs in urban cores.

The FAA said that the situation regarding urban core decay could only be resolved if 1939 rent laws were fully revoked.

“While FAA supports the proposed upgrading of urban cores and the social regeneration that the Harbour area so badly needs, the organisation urges caution in the relaxation of policies regarding the conversion of urban conservation area homes into offices,” the FAA said.

Regarding commercial projects such as offices, the FAA said that these should be limited to large buildings no longer suitable for domestic use. 

The ICOMOS conference 2010 highlighted that the health of a city is measured by its balance of different functions, and that the lack of a balanced socio-economic mix was causing deterioration in the community fabric of Valletta.

“For this reason, a cautious approach needs to be taken regarding the relaxation of regulations on the use of properties in Valletta for offices or other commercial uses,” The FAA said. 

Measures considered positive be the FAA include the €7 million to be invested on enhancing public spaces, works on historic sites including temples, palaces, catacombs and fortifications as well as works in preparation for Valletta’s hosting of the European Cultural Capital in 2018.

“These measures that will not only improve the quality of life for residents but will also serve to increase employment in tourism,” the FAA said.