Gasan and Tumas towers to dominate Mriehel skyline

The four towers are expected to consume seven million kWh of energy, the average consumed by 1,600 people annually

A mock-up of the proposed development
A mock-up of the proposed development

Two of Malta’s most powerful business groups have proposed a futuristic design for an Mriehel tower project that will consist of four cylindrical high-rise towers, and which will have a major impact on long distance views.

It will consume seven million kWh of energy, the equivalent of energy consumed in a year by 1,500 to 1,600 average Maltese people.

The proposed development will consist of four tower blocks – North Tower, South Tower, East Tower and West Tower, comprising 16, 18, 20 and 14 storeys respectively, sitting on top of five basement levels. 

The project will include 39,915 square metres of office space, 1,060 square metres of retail space, a 790 square metre show room, a 1,735 square metre gymnasium and day care centre, a 1,225 square metre supermarket and 33,831 square metres of parking spaces catering for 1,032 cars.  

A project development statement presented by the developers states that the aim of the project is the creation of a landmark development that will serve as a catalyst for similar investment in the Mriehel Industrial Area.

The project also aims to make the Mriehel Industrial Area more attractive, both as a place of work and recreation.

The towers are to be organised around a central plaza. The project will include elevated, landscaped walkways and public spaces connecting the towers at Levels 2, 3 and 4. The towers will also have open air terraces on the other levels.

A screening by MEPA’s Environment Protection Directorate concludes that the development required an Environment Planning Statement.

According to the screening report the project is likely to have a potential significant impact on landscape and visual amenity in the area, “including long-distance views given the site context and its location”. Previously MEPA officials had warned that Mriehel was a sensitive site due to its impact on views of Mdina and Valletta.

The application seeks permission for the construction of a multi-storey commercial complex on a site within the Mriehel Industrial Area, on the corner of Triq il-Merghat and Triq l-Esportaturi, in Mriehel. 

The site for the proposed development is located on the southern edge of the Mriehel Industrial Area and covers an area of approximately 10,000m2. 

The western half of the site is currently being used as a car park in connection with the adjacent Gasan showroom. 

An abandoned farmhouse is located along the northwestern perimeter of the site and is currently in a state of disrepair. The eastern side of the site is undeveloped and previously consisted of agricultural land.

The southern part of the development site is already committed for a multi-storey commercial complex, including a showroom, offices and car parking provision. A development permit was granted to the same applicant for a five-storey development in July 2010.

A Project Development Statement presented by the developers’ consultants estimates that the proposal at full operation shall be consuming 7,000,000 kWh in terms of electricity and 109,600 litres in terms of water.

Excavations will result in 143,000 cubic metres of construction waste. The material is not expected to be of good quality due to its clay content, and therefore cannot be re-used.

The development will result in an increase of 2,800 employees frequenting this site. This may increase traffic and emissions in the area.

Mriehel for high-rise

The application for the mega development was presented in October by the Tumas and Gasan groups, who are also partners in the ElectroGas consortium, on a site adjacent to that of the present Gasan head office on the Mriehel bypass.

Mriehel was not included among the localities that will be considered for high-rise buildings of over 10 storeys, when a policy regulating building heights was first issued for public consultation in November 2013. 

But then it was added to the list before the policy was approved in June.

Planning Ombudsman David Pace had criticized the government for including Mriehel at such a late stage.

“The inclusion of Mriehel in the approved zones where the policy is applicable, should have been put to public consultation prior to the final approval by the MEPA board,” the planning ombudsman told MaltaToday in June.

According to MEPA official Joe Scalpello, Mriehel was added because there was already a government strategy to improve and upgrade the area and its context.

Interviewed in The Times in June, Scalpello specified that any development in Mriehel must safeguard views of Mdina and Valletta, “as there is a sight-line between the two (historical cities), right across Mriehel.”

MaltaToday is informed that MEPA will be expecting photomontages of the development from different sensitive viewpoints in the environment impact assessment.