‘Mosta gardens must stay green lung’ - Labour candidate

Labour candidate Chris Grech insists that the Labour Party’s plans for Mosta do not foresee any car parks on the two large private gardens in the locality

The 13,000 sq.m Mosta garden is presently full of citrus trees and is arguably protected from development by the local plan as a “green enclave”
The 13,000 sq.m Mosta garden is presently full of citrus trees and is arguably protected from development by the local plan as a “green enclave”

Architect Chris Grech, one of Labour’s heavyweight candidates for Mosta and the brains contributing to its manifesto for the locality, insists that he only heard of a promise-of-sale agreement earmarking the gardens of Villa Gollcher for a carpark when asked about it by MaltaToday last Friday.

He insists that the Labour Party’s plans for Mosta do not foresee any car parks on the two private gardens in the locality, namely Villa Gollcher and Villa Mifsud Grech, which he described as “the two green lungs of Mosta”.

The party’s manifesto proposes “a public underground car park” in a “central location” in Mosta without identifying a site. It also proposes a site-selection exercise for identifying a new site for the relocation of the Mosta civic centre, with the aim of transforming the area around the church in an open space.

MaltaToday contacted Grech after receiving reports from different sources about a meeting he had organised for the business community in which Grech outlined his plans on traffic and businesses. The meeting was also attended by Kola Formosa, the developer who signed the promise-of-sale agreement earmarking the garden for development, on condition of the issuance of a planning permit.

No planning application has so far been submitted but MaltaToday has been receiving reports from different sources, including residents in the area, about plans to develop the garden since December.

But when asked about this meeting, Grech insists that Villa Gollcher was not even mentioned during this meeting.

When asked about the presence of Formosa among the businessmen attending the meeting, Grech replied that he was present because he owns a couple of shops in Mosta.

When asked specifically on the proposal to turn the garden into a carpark he replied that “the proposal merits discussion” in the same way as any other application presented by private individuals.

But he expressed scepticism that such a proposal can ever be approved because the site is designated by the local plan as a “green enclave”.

“From my professional experience as an architect it is difficult to develop a pool in such enclaves let alone a large car park,” he said.
He also believes that “ideally” the garden should be turned in to a public garden to be enjoyed by everyone, but this option would only be possible if the site is bought from its current owners by the government.

When asked where the new Mosta car park and civic centre should be located, Grech replied that “one should consider developing a number of small underground carparks” and not one mega carpark.

He also expressed his reservations on original plans by government to develop a big car park in the vicinity of the Mosta church, adding that although technology has improved, one should not risk any damage to the Mosta church.

He also said that the choice is limited to publicly-owned lands, possibly under existing squares like the one where the Mosta flea market is located. He also mentioned the possibility of a park and ride facility. Moreover the civic centre can be located on an already existing public building in Mosta.

Grech insists that his priority is to see the Mosta square transformed “into an open and paved square in which one finds facilities, benches, fountains and more space and table and chairs for catering establishments.”

Another priority for Grech is better traffic management, including public consultation on the redirection of traffic in a way that access to the central square will be through Eucharistic Congress street.

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