Marlene Farrugia demands moratorium on large-scale developments

Independent MP Marlene Farrugia to table motion in parliament to suspend divestment of public land to private investors and large scale developments

Independent MP Marlene Farrugia, seen here during a protest against the development of ODZ land at Zonqor Point, will table a motion in parliament to stop large-scale developments
Independent MP Marlene Farrugia, seen here during a protest against the development of ODZ land at Zonqor Point, will table a motion in parliament to stop large-scale developments

Independent MP Marlene Farrugia will table a motion in parliament calling to suspend divestment of public land to private investors and a moratorium on new large-scale developments. 

Farrugia’s announcement comes in the wake of controversy over plans to build a 36-storey tower on the Villa Rosa area at St George’s Bay as reported in MaltaToday, as well as plans to develop the former ITS site in St Julian’s into a high-rise hotel.

“Piecemeal development and short term planning by subsequent governments has to stop,” Farrugia argued.

“We need to safeguard our country, our quality of life, and give investors a level playing field with clear cut briefs within which they can plan and operate,” she said.

 

Farrugia, who prior to her resignation from the Labour parliamentary group chaired the parliamentary environment committee, made her announcement on Facebook, and said she will oppose the developments until a new master plan for the zone extending from Pieta to Bahar ic-Caghaq is drawn up.

She explained that the master plan would be drawn up to meet the country’s planning needs, environmental targets, cultural and social considerations, sustainable economic growth targets, tourism direction, infrastructural and resource requirements, and proper valuation of any public land intended for divestment.

In addition, Farrugia, said she would be requesting that the experts tasked with overseeing the studies and completion of this master plan enjoy the trust of the government, the opposition, and the general public.

Farrugia also called all stakeholders, involving all NGOs and civil society, to also be involved in the drafting of the master plan.

On Sunday, MaltaToday reported how negotiations with the Seabank Hotel’s owner for the concession of the site occupied by the Institute for Tourism Studies in St George’s Bay were started in the absence of a development brief setting out the planning parameters for development of this site.

The Times of Malta have claimed that Silvio Debono’s company had offered €6.5 million for the prime site held by the ITS covering an area of 25,000 square metres, when the value of the seafront land was more akin to between €80 million and €100 million, especially if planning laws are changed to accommodate high-rise residential development.

The interest of hotelier Silvio Debono in the St George’s Bay land where the Institute for Tourism Studies stands was a known secret in business circles and one which Debono himself, the owner of the Seabank, made a subtle reference to back in 2013.

But Debono had denied the rumours when MaltaToday asked him whether he was interested in developing a hotel on the site of the ITS.

The scale of reconstruction at St George’s Bay is so unprecedented, the government is to set up a St George’s Bay Regeneration Corporation to facilitate at least three major projects and coordinate traffic flows and major diversions.

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