A closer look at the Paceville 2020 vi­sion

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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

Edi­tor’s pick

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.

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