Grand Harbour regeneration plan unveiled

Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg unveils Grand Harbour regeneration plans

A futuristic view of the inner parts of the Grand Harbour as shown in the document unveiled by government that speaks of regeneration of Malta's main port
A futuristic view of the inner parts of the Grand Harbour as shown in the document unveiled by government that speaks of regeneration of Malta's main port

Plans to regenerate the Grand Harbour include extending the cruise terminal, shifting cargo activity to the Kordin side and using quayside buildings for recreational activities.

The plans cover the coastline from beneath Fort St Elmo in Valletta all the way around to Fort Ricasoli in Kalkara and include restoration of fortifications and a tourist trail.

The Grand Harbour Regeneration proposals were unveiled on Friday by Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg.

Details of the proposed quayside development and reorganisation were given in a 76-page document but a separate study on the ex Marsa power station site was not included.

The plans suggest land reclamation on the Kordin side of Grand Harbour to join two existing quays in a continuous stretch, which would also create more space for cargo ships. This would be the first new area in 20 years to be created in the Grand Harbour for maritime use.

Other infrastructural works include extending the cruise liner terminal inwards and the transformation of the Marsa Menqa into a recreational area with the possibility of yacht berths close to the potato shed area.

Fort Ricasoli will be restored and instead of the oil tank cleaning farm, it will host a family park.

Borg said the government’s vision for the Grand Harbour will create new spaces for the maritime sector, introduce recreational areas for families and rehabilitate historic sites.

“In this vision, we are looking at nine specific zones in the Grand Harbour, which areas, even with the contribution of the private sector, will put Malta on the next level so that our port will remain a source of economic and social activity,” the minister said.

He said the plan will complement the works currently underway on the Clean Air Project, which will supply berthed ships with electricity so that they can switch off their engines while in port.

A separate study on wave patterns in the Grand Harbour proposes the creation of a wave breaker beneath the Great Siege bell to minimise the reflection of waves that negatively impact the opposite side of the port.  Plans for this have been presented to the Planning Authority.

Echoes of a past plan

The grand vision outlined today echoes similar plans for the Grand Harbour laid out in 2007 by then Nationalist minister Austin Gatt. Back then, the plan identified 20 different projects to be undertaken along the shores of the Grand Harbour most of which never took off the ground.

Many of those same projects such as an expansion in the cruise liner terminal, the transformation of the Menqa area in Marsa and the removal of the oil tank cleaning farm in Fort Ricasoli find themselves repeated in the plan unveiled by Borg 14 years later.