‘Laissez-faire attitude’ good for economy but extremely unhealthy for country, planners say

The Malta Chamber of Planners argued that the current spate of construction incidents, at least three in a matter of two months, may just be the "tip of a massive iceberg"

The Chamber said it sympathised with all the victims of three major construction incidents, which could have much worse repercussions
The Chamber said it sympathised with all the victims of three major construction incidents, which could have much worse repercussions

The Malta Chamber of Planners said that the lack of comprehensive planning and "laissez-faire attitude may be good for the economy but is extremely unhealthy for the country in the medium to long term."

It referred to the current spate of construction accidents which it said may be just "the tip of a massive iceberg", the impacts of which will start being more evident in the immediate future.

The Chamber called for proper and comprehensive planning to be implemented immediately, or "it may be too late for our country."

The Planning Chamber said in a statement that 15 years ago, a few years after the creation of the Planning Authority, there was a myriad planning tools which were used in planning, such as Development Briefs, Action Plans, Subject Plans and others but that a cursory look at the PA's website reveals that the most recent plans are outdated by a decade.

It said that it was concerned with any "hurried, short-sighed suggestions" and with obvious quick solutions on the part of the government to deal with the problems surrounding the construction industry.

The Chamber mentioned one example, specifically the stopping of excavations to allow for an additional overlying floor instead.

"At face value, this may seem an obvious quick solution, however what impacts would it have in the long term? The immediately glaring effect will be on the streetscape where such a concession would result in buildings being higher than existing adjacent buildings. Would it also mean that already developed buildings with a semi-basement which have not excavated totally below ground become immediately eligible for an additional floor?" it said.

As a suggestion, the Chamber said that a more long-term approach would be to limit the number of units to the amount of parking being provided by the development rather than keep approving developments with lack of parking and having to pay for the parking shortage thus exacerbating the parking problem in localities.

"It is acknowledged that the current speed of development may be part of the cause of some of the collapses in the sense that as much work as possible is being done in the shortest time possible. However, this is not within the Chamber’s remit to investigate or comment about, and appropriate safeguards need to be implemented together with the necessary studies and strengthening of existing agencies to make sure they can adequately fulfil their statutory responsibilities," the statement read.