NGOs call on public to petition MPs ahead of Townsquare, Mriehel projects’ decisions

Thursday will see Planning Authority take decisions on tall buildings proposals at Mriehel and the Sliema Townsquare project

The Sliema Townsquare project, rendered on a view from the Sliema seafront
The Sliema Townsquare project, rendered on a view from the Sliema seafront

Environmental NGO Flimkien ghal-Ambjent Ahjar have called on the public to petition their MPs ahead of a meeting by the Planning Authority to deliberate on the proposed high-rise development in Mriehel.

Decisions on Mriehel’s four-tower high-rise and Sliema’s 38-storey storey Townsquare will be taken on Thursday.

The permits for four Mriehel tower blocks and Town Square’s mega high-rise development are set to be granted, NGOs Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Din l-Art Helwa, Friends of the Earth (Malta) and Ramblers said.

“Building high-rise towers is not a case of ‘better build up than out’ into the countryside, as those wanting a farmhouse or weekend getaway in ODZ will not simply buy a high-rise apartment instead. The proof of this is that in spite of all the tall buildings being proposed, the number of countryside applications is at a record high,” the NGOs said.

The NGOs are asking the general public to send a letter to their representatives.

A mock-up of proposed towers in Mriehel by the Gasan and Tumas groups
A mock-up of proposed towers in Mriehel by the Gasan and Tumas groups

“It has been said for years that the Maltese economy needs modern offices, however MEPA had stated that approved projects will already provide enough offices for the coming years. The banks’ reluctance to finance these projects confirms limited demand for retail and office space. The Metropolis and Mistra projects have failed to find financial backing: will other projects end up a burden on the taxpayer like Smart City and the Addolorata A3 Towers which are being bailed out by government?” the NGO said.

The Mriehel towers will draw 2,900 users but will only provide 1,000 car spaces, which means 2,000 extra cars looking for parking will increase the rate of air pollution in residential areas in Attard, Balzan, Birkirkara and Sta Venera, where parking is already a problem.

The 2007 Townsquare Traffic Impact Study does not include the impact of more recent projects including the 40-storey Fort Cambridge hotel tower, which with Town Square, will result in an increase of 5,768 daily car trips causing gridlock on already congested roads.

“Tall buildings deprive residents of light, air and solar rights, and will change Malta’s landscape for ever, ruining heritage vistas like the view of Mdina which will impact Malta’s tourism appeal,” FAA said.

“Mriehel was included in the high-rise policy underhandedly, after the public consultation had closed. This means high-rise development in Mriehel does not reflect the will of the people, and is possibly illegal.”

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