€631,000 for embellishment works in Swieqi, Birkirkara and Xghajra
The Planning Authority yesterday signed an agreement with the local councils of Swieqi, Birkirkara and Xagħra to fund €631,000 worth of projects in their respective localities.
The projects fall under the Authority’s Urban Improvement Fund, and include major upgrading work in the Birkirkara valley area, the embellishment of FX Ebejer Garden in Swieqi and paving work around the Chapel of St Anthony the Abbot in Xagħra, Gozo.
During a press conference held in Swieqi yesterday, Planning Authority executive chairman Johann Buttigieg, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning Deborah Schembri, Swieqi Mayor Noel Muscat and PA Board chairman Vince Cassar signed the agreement for the embellishment work.
The PA also presented the mayors of Swieqi, Mellieħa and Mqabba with the money for recently completed projects, such as the upgrading work and access to all facilities at a public garden and tennis court in Triq Il-Hemel, Swieqi, the upgrading of a playing field in Mqabba and the installation of new energy-saving street lighting in a number of streets in Mellieha. The total cost of the work amounted to over €233,000.
While the mayors were accepting the cheques, Swieqi Mayor Noel Muscat pleaded with PA Board Chairman Vince Cassar for the authority to help strike a balance between development approvals and retaining the little open space there is left.
“Swieqi is under siege by development, there is barely any open space left so please help us,” he said.
Addressing the conference, Dr Schembri revealed that this coming January, the government will be increasing the criteria for the availability of Urban Improvement Funds, allowing more localities to have the opportunity of tapping into these funds.
The projects proposed for Birkirkara, Swieqi and Xghajra will include:
Extensive embellishment work in Birkirkara along Triq il-Qasab and Sqaq ilWied will consist of new street furniture, footpaths, decorative railings, street lighting and theupgrading of an existing garden.
In Xaghra the UIF project will include the installation of travertine steps and architectural external lighting along the chapel’s pavis and repaving work along the alley leading up to the chapel.
The Chapel of St Anthony the Abbott is one of the oldest chapels in Gozo and served as the first parish church of Xaghra until 1962.
Extensive embellishment work will be carried out in F.X. Ebejer Garden in Swieqi, a popular public garden enjoyed by residents living in the area. The work includes the installation of a timber gazebo, child sensory play equipment, landscaping, entrance gates and new lighting.
Over the past year, the PA has signed agreements with 13 different local councils for projects that are estimated to cost over €1.2 million. The funds for these projects originate from the Urban Improvement Fund administered by the PA. The accumulated money in this fund originates from the fee the PA imposes on developers, where projects cannot fully cater for parking provisions as required by law.