DB project will harm quality of life for thousands of families - Local Councils Association

The Local Councils Association wants all three councils impacted by the project to be represented on the planning board when the project permit is discussed again

The DB Group has filed an application for excavation works on the ITS site to start
The DB Group has filed an application for excavation works on the ITS site to start

Opposition to the DB Group's latest planning application to start excavations on the former ITS site in Pembroke is growing, with the Local Councils Association weighing in on the matter.

The association, which represents all local councils in Malta and Gozo, is objecting to the DB Group's attempt to excavate the site despite a court decision that annulled the permit awarded last year.

The association said the whole project would “harm the quality of life of thousands of families".

In a strongly worded statement, the association, which is presided by Labour councilor Mario Fava, described the application to excavate the site before a full permit is issued as a “tactic by the developer to create a commitment on the site so one decision leads to the next”.

The association said this was also a way of ensuring that objectors to the excavation would not be able to object to the project in its entirety.

“We understand that if the excavation works are approved the site will not be left as a massive hole.”

The LCA described the approval of major projects in Paceville in the absence of a master plan as a “suicide” for residents. It also criticised the granting of a permit by the PA last year for being issued in the absence of any commitment on the part of the developer to “make good” for the infrastructural costs required by the project.

It also noted that the only infrastructural project being proposed is a “tunnel which will be creating even more inconvenience” to residents and which still has to be approved.

The association also called for all three councils impacted by the project - Pembroke, St Julians and Swieqi - to be represented on the planning board when it discusses the permits related to the project. Only the Pembroke council was represented in the board decision where the project was approved last year.

The court revoked the permit awarded last year after it deemed that one of the planning board members had a conflict. The court did not enter into the merits of the project, which envisages the development of a 37-storey residential tower and a 17-storey hotel.

After the court ruling, the DB group presented a set of new plans which are practically identical to plans submitted in March following a decision of the PA’s Appeals Tribunal which largely reconfirmed the decision taken by the PA board last year.

The new plans have been included in the original application presented in 2017.

But the developers have also presented a new separate application for the excavation of the ITS site in preparation to City Centre Development. The new application makes specific reference to the retention of Grade 2 scheduled buildings, a Cold War substation and other underground structures.

On Saturday NGOs and the three neighbouring local councils reacted strongly against the the application presented for the excavation of the site accusing the DB group of trying to evade a holistic evaluation of the full impact of the development.

“It is obvious that the whole planning and assessment procedure is being split into many stages to avoid having a study on the whole, final, gargantuan project and its environmental and related impacts,” the statement read.

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