Government offers Midi compensation for Manoel Island downsizing

The government has proposed a revision of a permit issued in 1999 to lessen the scale of development on Manoel Island in return for an unspecified compensation during ongoing negotiations with Midi plc.

“The Company received proposals from the government to decrease the volume of the proposed development on certain parts of the Project and to compensate the Company in other areas,” a prospectus issued by Midi plc on the occasion of the latest issue of shares for the public states.

When asked for details on the negotiations with Midi, a spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister confirmed that during a meeting with Midi “the idea was raised as to whether Midi could be prepared to affect a development on Manoel Island which is less intense than that contemplated in the Outline Development Zone, that had been issued on the 18 October 1999.”

The government’s spokesperson did not reveal how the government proposed compensating the company.

According to the OPM, the proposal was made during regular meetings between Government and Midi plc to oversee the implementation of the obligations by the respective parties stipulated in the contract.

According to the government, no conclusion has been reached on this issue.

But the prospectus reveals that Midi has accepted to enter into negotiations on this proposal, “on the basis that a solution can be identified that is not detrimental to the interests of either party”.

Some of the alternative solutions discussed with the government would require changes to the Outline Development Permit and to the Emphyteutical Deed, the prospectus says.  Changes to the Emphyteutical Deed, once agreed to by the Company and by government, will require Parliamentary approval.

What’s in store for Manoel Island

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority is still processing the application for the construction of 375 new residential units in the proposed‘Mediterranean Marina Village’ set on 15,450 square metres of land. Other apartments are envisioned at the Lazaretto. The prospectus sets the total number of apartments on Manoel Island at 469.

According to Midi, Manoel Island is envisaged as “a quiet, low lying, residential and recreational environment that is characterised by space”.  Buildings will occupy less than 25% of the site and large tracts of the island, in particular around the fort, are being designated as a green area serving as a public park.

An underground car park for 2,000 cars, a marina with 300 yacht berths and 30 berths for superyachts, an extensive public park, restaurants and entertainment and sports facilities, are also envisaged.

According to the latest plans thedevelopers are proposing 40 less residential units than the 415 approved in an outline permit issued in 1999.

According to the master plan submitted to MEPA, the marina village will be an “open, low level” development which “emphasises the experience of the pedestrian crossing.”

The highest development – rising to a maximum five storeys – is expected to take place on the right-hand side of the Manoel Island bridge, opposite the ducks’ village.

In the rest of the marina village facing Lazaretto, the buildings are projected to be three to four storeys high. An open space is projected between the Marina village and the historical Lazzaretto, which is earmarked as a casino in another application.  The government had waived the casino concession fee in return for the restoration of Fort Manoel.

The project also envisions the widening of the channel leading to the island, the building of a new bridge, the reclamation of land on the north shore of the boat yard, the building of a small breakwater at the outer edge of the Lazzaretto buildings; and the creation of the sports facilities and a park around the environs of Fort Manoel.

What remains to be developed in Tigné

Three high-rise blocks are still to be developed at the Tigné peninsula, which is Midi’s other important piece of development opposite Manoel Island.

Block T14, which is earmarked for the development of a multi-storey office block with an underlying car park, business centre and conference theatre, is set to rise 14 floors, terracing down to 10 floors.

Block T17, earmarked for the development of two residential apartment blocks overlying a car park and clubhouse, has a proposed height of 12 storeys. According to the outline development permit, building heights on the site of the two new developments were set at between five and 12 floors.

According to the prospectus the commercial blocks T15 and T16 are expected to commence construction in 2011, and are to be completed by 2012/2013. Plans for the T20 “hospitality offering” are still underway with work on the substructure expected to commence in 2012/2013. But no application has been yet submitted for the proposed hotel.

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John Mifsud
MIDI will be given the cash, and in a couple of years will be issued with fresh permits for the extra flats and probably more.