Updated | Democratic Party laments Malta's ‘out of control’ urbanisation

The party said the government had now turned its sights on land reclamantion despite there being no national masterplan

The PD lamented Malta's out of control urbanisation
The PD lamented Malta's out of control urbanisation

Malta’s urbanisation is out of control with the country having adopted a political direction which favours volumes over values, the Democratic Party said on Saturday.

In a statement, the party said the government had now “turned its eyes on land reclamation” despite the fact that there was no national master plan and that studies on the subject remain unpublished.

“Yet it issues expressions of interest and promises landfills to private entrepreneurs for their mega projects,” the PD said.

It said it was a fact that land reclamation was only commercially feasible if accompanied by up-market real estate.

“It seems that MIDI’s Manoel Island project is in for its share take,” the PD said.

It said that new plans had been submitted to the Planning Authority to reclaim land from the side of Manoel Island that faces the Gzira promenade in order to build a series of 10-storey apartment blocks “to the detriment of the existing bay open space, urban environment, and public interests”.

“This means that more than a quarter of the area of the inlet sea between the Gzira promenade and Manoel Island stretching from the far end of the yacht yard to the bridge, will be landfilled to accommodate MIDI, while more reclaimed land on the Gzira side is to be given to two adjoining hotels so that they share a lido. This is sheer nonsense. It has strong negative impacts,” MEP candidate Anthony Buttigieg said.

Another of the party’s candidates, Camilla Appelgren, insisted that land reclamation always came at the cost of damage to an ecosystem. “Hence it should be the very last resort when all other options have been exhausted.”

The party said it supported Gzira residents in their concerns while noting that the Public Domain Act had been intentionally side-lined and “thrown in the abyss”.

“Our environmental legislation is too weak to safeguard encroachment of the existing bay open space, urban environment, and public interests.”

MIDI reaction

In a reaction, MIDI said the reclamation of the sea area in front of Gzira is not a new proposal.

“The reclamation of the area between the existing bridge and the yacht yard is a contractual obligation in terms of the deed of the emphyteusis between MIDI and Government,” the consortium said. 

It said the reclamation was “contemplated” in the existing outline development permit and that the same area was included for reclamation in the new outline development application.

MIDI said the reclaimed land in front of the yacht yard is to be allocated to government for use by the yacht yard and that it would be developing the area reclaimed at the entrance to Manoel Island.

“In order to reduce the impact on the Gzira waterfront the new outline development application contemplates that the building to be developed at the entrance to Manoel Island will be retreated by more than 20 meters when compared to the existing outline development permit.”

Furthermore, MIDI said that the PD’s statement, that it intends to build a series of 10-storey apartment blocks was incorrect.

“The development of Manoel Island contemplates a series of residential clusters which do not exceed four floors,” it said.  

“The residential clusters will be built on a sub structure, built to house service roads, car parks and infrastructure, which extends up to eight meters above sea level and the overall building heights on Manoel Island will range from 20.8 meters to 27.5 meters when measured from mean sea level, with the highest points being at the centre of the island in view of its topography.”

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