Updated | DB’s City Centre project’s revised plans still a threat to quality of life, opponents insist

Three local councils and several groups will oppose DB Group’s revised plans for the City Centre project in St George’s Bay, saying it still fails to address residents’ concerns despite changes

The DB Group has revised its plans for the City Centre project, including a reduction of seven storeys in the residential tower but opponents, including three local councils, insist the development will still harm residents' quality of life
The DB Group has revised its plans for the City Centre project, including a reduction of seven storeys in the residential tower but opponents, including three local councils, insist the development will still harm residents' quality of life

Updated at 1:40pm with DB Group statement

Fresh plans submitted by the DB Group for the City Centre project in St George’s Bay are still “a threat” to the quality of life of residents, opponents insist.

The new plans do not “in any way” address residents’ concerns that they will be “buried alive” by the sheer size of the development on the former ITS site, a statement signed by the local councils of Pembroke, Swieqi and St Julians, and several other activist groups said on Wednesday. 

The DB Group has submitted new plans for the project that include a reduction in the height of the proposed residential tower by seven storeys, an increase in the public areas and the retention of the existing ITS building on its original location.

The company said the reduction in height has also reduced the shadowing effect on the residences in Pembroke immediately behind the project. All office space has been removed from the project that will include a Hard Rock Hotel.

However, opponents insist there have been no significant changes in the massive height and width of the hotel.

“Residents’ concerns about being ‘buried alive’ relate primarily to this monstrous hotel structure which, due to its height combined with its vast width, will overshadow the locality and throw the thousands of residents living across the road into permanent darkness,” the groups said, adding that nothing has changed in this regard.

Opponents insist that there have been no significant changes in the nature of the project and the activity that it will create.

“With the revised plans, Paceville will still invade Pembroke and Swieqi since the project will generate incessant and overwhelming commercial activity in an area that was designated by government itself as a residential one,” the groups said.

They also raised concerns over what they claim is the project’s threat to the Ħarq Ħamiem Cave. The developers say there are 24m of rock separating the cave from the construction work above and less than 1% of the project buildings overlap the cave.

The DB project has attracted widespread opposition and the greatest number of official objections ever recorded. The project received a planning permit in 2018 that was confirmed by the planning tribunal. However, the court threw out the permit on the basis that one of the planning board members had a conflict of interest.

The application is up for reconsideration in the coming months but developers have submitted revised plans.

“We recognise that meetings with the Pembroke local council have led to revised plans with more proposed open space, among other improvements, as well as a revised excavation plans. However, the project as proposed in these revised plans remains totally out of proportion and out of context, and the people will continue fighting against this threat to their quality of life and the environment,” the objectors said.

The public has until 26 June to object to the Planning Authority against the DB revised plans. 

The statement was signed by the councils of Pembroke, St Julian’s and Swieqi, and the civil society groups: Bicycle Advocacy Group, BirdLife Malta, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Isles of the Left, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta, The Archaeological Society of Malta and Żminijietna - Voice of the Left.

Artist's impression of how the project will look
Artist's impression of how the project will look

DB Group says Pembroke council's opposition 'incomprehensible'

The Pembroke council's opposition to the new plans is "incomprehensible", the DB group said, adding that the revised project addressed all the council's concerns.

"It is mind-boggling that the Pembroke local council endorsed the NGO’s press release criticizing our City Centre project proposed for St George’s Bay, St Julian’s. Late last year, the Pembroke council voted 4-1 to sign a memorandum of understanding with us as the project proponents declaring that they are in favour. One of the four councilors who voted in favour, was none other than the current mayor, Dean Hili. It is therefore incomprehensible that the Pembroke council came out against the project now that all their concerns have been addressed and the project is much smaller than when they signed the MoU in favour last year," the DB Group said in a statement.

The company said the council's stand was even more incomprehensible since it is scheduled to take a vote on the matter "in the next few hours".

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