ADPD on Hamrun roof garden project: 'A classic example of how things should not be done'

The Green Party insists urban renewal should aim to improve community facilities and open spaces, not erecting concrete pillars to accomodate cars

Through a €1.5 million investment, a roof garden is being installed on top of a car park in Ħamrun
Through a €1.5 million investment, a roof garden is being installed on top of a car park in Ħamrun

ADPD – The Green Party has called the roof garden project in Misraħ is-Sebgħa ta’ Ġunju 1919 in Ħamrun, a "classic example" of how things should not be done.

It insisted that urban renewal should aim at improving community facilities and open spaces and not erecting concrete pillars. Through a €1.5 million investment, a surface car park in Hamrun is being roofed over with a garden on top.

At a press conference in Ħamrun on Wednesday afternoon, ADPD general-secretary and candidate for the seventh and eleventh districts Ralph Cassar said the €1.5 million spent on the concrete structure would have been better spent on trees, open spaces and public and cultural facilities in the locality.

"With the exaggerated expenditure on what could simply be considered as a concrete umbrella for cars, eight major roads could have been turned into avenues with trees," Cassar said.

He noted that the main road in Ħaż-Żebbuġ became an avenue with trees for about €200,000 through the initiative of independent councillor Steve Zammit Lupi. The project will improve the entrance to Ħaż-Żebbuġ and introduce trees to this main road.

"The Minister for the Environment is simply showing us that the Partit Laburista’s plan for urban renewal is simply buzz words meant to impress when in reality it is simply another excuse for more building and concrete – with people pushed off residential streets and sent up literally to a roof top,” Cassar said.

ADPD Chairperson and candidate for the fourth and ninth districts Carmel Cacopardo said a distinction must be made between greening existing rooftops and the unnecessary building of massive canopies for cars over open spaces.

“Residents should be prioritized on urban roads with community spaces, and facilities such as open spaces at street level. The small parking lot in the area could have easily been transferred nearby through a simple re-organisation of the roads in the vicinity. At the end of the day it is imperative that open spaces are not sacrificed for the more cars," Cacopardo said.

"People, air quality and streets and spaces dedicated to the community should be of utmost priority. PLPN’s vision for our country, including tunnels for traffic, is light years away from that deserving of a modern vision for our urban zones,” Cacopardo said.

He emphasised Malta has not been utilising land properly, with overdevelopment "wiping out" many open spaces and gardens. Cacopardo said applications for developments within towns are continuously removing large spacious gardens.

"We all agree on the benefit of creating open spaces accessible for all, but it should be done properly. We need public open spaces free of pollution, with free access to clean air," he said.

Cacopardo suggested these open spaces are implemented as part of a holistic transport decarbonisation plan, with plans to reduce cars on the roads, facilitating the conversion of public spaces into people-friendly zones. "Let’s reclaim our streets," he concluded.