Pembroke residents call for ITS project to be scrapped

Residents, local councils, and NGOs gathered in Pembroke to express concerns on proposed mega project on former ITS site • 'Do Not Bury Us Alive' campaign against overdevelopment launched

The project proposed by db Group for the former ITS site in Pembroke will “bury alive” its residents, a number of NGOs, local councils and residents said today.

Concerns were raised during a press conference near the proposed site about the “massive” scale of the project – a 37-storey residential tower and 19-storey resort hotel of 455 rooms.

The gathering was a follow-up to a public meeting last month, in which over 200 residents expressed concerns about the proposal.

Activist and Pembroke resident Adrian Grima said the “monstrous” project would negatively impact residents and those working in the area. The infrastructure is not adequate to cater for such a project, as the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project did not take other development projects in the area into consideration, Grima said.

Other residents raised concerns about health, noise pollution, and the fact that the infrastructure in the area is not appropriate for high-rise building.

St.Julian’s mayor Guido Dalli said that embellishment projects in the area are futile if the proposed project goes through. “Don’t let Pembroke become St.Julian’s,” he told residents, adding that St.Julian’s has been destroyed by development. “This is the beginning of the destruction of Pembroke, as developments will continue.”

Pembroke mayor Dean Hili said that Pembroke used to be a “clean canvas”, explaining that residents are used to a certain way of life. Developments of this caliber, therefore, threaten the life that residents have grown accustomed to.

Hili also echoed the concern that the infrastructure of the area does not cater for such development, and that the project should not go through unless the environment is changed to accommodate it. Traffic in Pembroke is already problematic, he said, and the roads surely cannot take any more cars. “As a local council, we cannot take a position in favour of this project,” Hili said.

The Democratic Party (PD) said that the application for the proposed project was being made without a master plan, and therefore does not consider its impacts in a holistic, genuine, and scientific manner. The project is being done without a development brief, and the the Auditor General's investigations on how the land was transferred is still ongoing – a fact which the PA is ignoring, according to PD.

Speaking at the conference, lawyer Claire Bonello said that the project would create traffic problems, as it would result in ‘total congestion’ of Pembroke. According to the EIA, the project will generate around 7,500 car trips per day.

Andre Callus of Moviment Graffitti described the proposal itself as “horrendous”, explaining that the land belongs to the public and is used for the public good. “Who will benefit from this project?” he asked, adding that the PA can choose to protect the interests of residents and of the environment, or of those who have a “lot of money”.

The government had signed to lease the land to db Group for the proposed project for 99 years for €60 million, split between a €15 million premium payable over seven years, and also €23.4 million for the redemption of ground rent on individual residences.

NGOs Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Nature Trust, Friends of the Earth Malta, Din L-Art Helwa, Zminijietna - Voice of the Left, and Kamp Emergenza Ambjent activists were also supporting the initiative.

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