A closer look at the Paceville 2020 vision
Imagine a forest of glassy high-rise towers sprouting out of designer pedestrian plazas and sprawling seaside promenades, and beneath it all, a state of the art transport network. That could be Paceville by 2020. A new master plan for Malta’s entertainment and tourist district, launched for public consultation by the Planning Authority last week, maps out how a shabby area could be regenerated to become a “prime coastal location” with a mix of five-star hotels, new homes and businesses.
For driving towards Paceville, a new tunnel would take motorists from the Regional Road tunnels all the way to the beginning of the Coast Road, doing away with the bottleneck that normally clogs up traffic around the entrance to Paceville. Some 60 per cent of Paceville’s traffic would be done away with thanks to this tunnel.
Another tunnel underneath the nightlife district could see the end of cars being driven there at all.
The master plan envisages a near-total pedestrianisation of the area, with underground passages leading to massive parking bays near new major developments
and public areas.
But before we get carried away with this vision of a glorious future for us all, we need to study the master plan closely. A look at the video provided by the Planning Authority shows us, towards the end, a vision of some high-rise towers, which have not yet been approved by the Planning Authority.
It would seem that at least two of the skyscrapers are designed by Zaha Hadid’s firm. The costs of that alone would have been tens of thousands. No one pays lots of money unless they’re sure of realising a project. That goes for the late Zaha Hadid’s firm as much as the developers themselves. There have been a spate of announcements over the past few months, all of which included the caveat that the project would only be built if it fits into the local plan for the area.
The crucial point is that the plan is meant to accommodate skyscraper buildings that have already been planned (no one pays Zaha Hadid for nothing), including the one on the ITS premises which were sold for a metaphorical sixpence to a government crony.
The plan is being sold as a public service, hence all the artist’s impressions that show impossibly wide open and well-lit public spaces that could never exist in reality and – crucially – none of the skyscrapers that this plan is meant to justify.
The view of Villa Rosa from the bay is especially misleading. The picture doesn’t show all the existing buildings and none of the skyscrapers which will obliterate all views, including Villa Rosa itself. Nor does the PA’s visionary documentary analyse any of the costs of executing the plan, including the estimated €55million for relocating ITS and €300 million infrastructural costs. That’s an average of at least €1,500 euros per tax payer that will be used to finance private profits.
So the first message we have is for the government and PA to stop taking the people for a ride. Secondly, to explain for whose benefit all this will be done. Thirdly, while agreeing that Paceville needs a thorough clean-up, the government must come clean with the Paceville entrepreneurs and tell them they must be swept away so that Paceville may become the real Golden Mile of the 2020s.