NGO coalition writes to Second District MPs asking them to oppose AUM extension

The letter called for the politician’s support in halting the proposed development, ahead of the Planning Authority hearing on the 21 November

The proposed extension in Bormla
The proposed extension in Bormla

A coalition of NGOs has called on MPs from the Second District, including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, to oppose the extension of the American University of Malta onto public open spaces at Dock 1.

In an open letter that was disseminated to the media this monring, NGOs and residents called for "direct, immediate and public support from the politicians to their cause, in an effort to halt the development".

"Your engagement will be essential to build momentum in our collective effort leading up to the next PA hearing, scheduled for the 21 November," the letter read.

The Planning Authority will determine the application for the AUM extension on Thursday next week.

The letter was addressed to all MPs elected from the Second District in the last election - Joseph Muscat, Chris Agius, Glenn Bedingfield, Joe Mizzi for the Labour Party, and Stephen Spiteri for the Nationalist Party. It was also addressed to the Bormla and Birgu local councils.

The open letter highlighted the three key objections to the development, calling for the immediate stop to the expansion.

On Sunday, a protest against the proposed development at the AUM campus will be organised.

The first key objection to the development is the loss of open spaces "in a locality which is already very densely built and starved of open areas for the community".

The loss of built heritage and historical views were also listed as concerns. According to the NGOs the built-up heritage is "the essence of Cottonera’s heritage and identity".

Aesthetic considerations were also highlighted by the coalition, stating that the proposed designs and building heights were not keeping with Urban Conservation policies.

The three key points are reflected in a petition that has collected 2,759 signatures.

Further issues were also raised in the letter, including several instances of drainage capacity problems.

“These serious health and infrastructural issues are additional to the known psychological ramifications of over-development and lack of open spaces on the community,” the letter read.

The lack of clarity regarding the access to foreshore was raised by the NGOs, with them stating that the recent court injunction instituted by Palumbo against the AUM, being proof of this.

The NGOs say the development will not address the severe lack of parking in the area but rather make it worse.

In a separate statement, Moviment Graffitti has also expressed its support with Cottonera residents, stating that the extension will “rob the community of yet another open space”.

Moviment Graffitti said that they will be attending the protest organised on Sunday, stating that “there is no reason why the PA board should approve this project, nor give the AUM further time to present new plans once this has already missed the deadlines given in the last sitting.”

Moviment Graffitti also said that should the PA approve the extension, it would be allowing yet another injustice towards Cottonera residents.

The open letter was signed by Azzjoni: Tuna Artna Lura, Forum Komunità Bormliża, Din L-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth, Malta Futur Ambjent Wiehed, International Tree Foundation, Moviment Graffitti, The Archaeological Society, The Ramblers' Association of Malta and Żminijietna - Voice of the Left.

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