Paceville developers might have to go back to the drawing board
Some developers who have set their sights on Paceville might have to go back to the drawing board, as the master plan for the area recently unveiled by the government does not match some of their proposals.
On closer inspection of the master plan, The Malta Independent on Sunday can reveal that some designs relating to the proposed Paceville developments made public by the press prior to the master plan’s unveiling, contrast, in some cases sharply, with what the master plan provides for.
Speaking with this newsroom, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning Deborah Schembri said that developers obviously have their own interests, and that the government has “both their interests as well as the nation’s interests at heart. While doing our best to take developers’ wishes into consideration, we cannot stop at that. This is the whole purpose of having the master plan”.
One example of such a contrast would be the Institute of Tourism Studies site. Seabank Group CEO Arthur Gauci had referred to plans for two residential towers when speaking with this newsroom earlier this year. But the master plan indicates three tall buildings (20+ storeys) on the site, two indicated for hotel use and one for office use. The master plan also shows two high buildings lower than 20 storeys.
Contacted by this newsroom, Seabank CEO Arthur Azzopardi said: “The company is currently reviewing the development plan for Paceville in detail and would, if it deems appropriate, submit its comments to the Planning Authority as provided for under such public consultation exercise.”
This newsroom also contacted Anton Camilleri, on behalf of Garnet Investments Ltd, who has plans for the Villa Rosa area. According to the master plan two tall buildings are projected for the Cresta Quay area. Mr Camilleri said that what appeared on the master plan was not in line with his proposal.
Referring to the master plan’s indications for Cresta Quay, St George’s Bay resident Dr Noel Buttigieg Scicluna, speaking to this newsroom, said: “This completely indecent proposal for St George’s Bay, by this I mean the bay and not just the beach, will allow a 30-level tower plonked on its side. Meaning that what is today there for the enjoyment of the public, would be limited to the enjoyment of the few.”
The Cresta Quay design as shown on the master plan, he explained, does not allow any kind of construction if one respects the 15 metre foreshore provision.
“It is too small an area to take a 30-storey tower, it’s impossible” he said, while urging the government to come and see the footprint.
The Prime Minister recently pledged that the foreshore in the area will remain fully accessible to the public.
Another development that might possibly be affected by the master plan is the mega-project being contemplated by the Corinthia Group. The master plan gives mixed information when it comes to whether buildings over 20 storeys high would be permitted or not. An image meant to indicate the placement of tall buildings (over 20 storeys) does not show any such development area; however another diagram mentions that the tallest building would be 22 storeys high. Last June, Corinthia subsidiary International Hotel Investments plc had presented a picture which included high-rise buildings.
IHI chairman Alfred Pisani had said, “If the island is to truly achieve its objective to become a high-end destination and flourishing financial centre, it must provide the kind of top quality accommodation and facilities available in countries like Singapore, Dubai and others, while at the same time delivering an end product that reflects Maltese characteristics.
“Since land in our country is limited, this strategy necessitates the construction of high-rise buildings. This is the only way to satisfy expected demand. There is no other option if we are genuine about wanting to preserve precious land.”
An artistic impression of the site also showed a number of highrise buildings. The layout on the master plan is also slightly different to the original plans in images provided by the Group. The size of the footprint taken up by buildings, according to the plan, would be 28 per cent, which is in line with the group’s original statement of 27 per cent.
Contacted, a spokesperson for Corinthia said: “We have no comment other than to say that we are currently studying the master plan in its full detail.”
The St George’s Park site, according to the master plan, includes three of the tall buildings, which seems to match what a spokesperson for the Testaferrata Group had told sections of the press last June – that the site could potentially house three towers.
The master plan’s vision for the Mercury House site at the old Telemalta building, meanwhile, is also similar to the developers’ plans, where two high-rise towers would be built. However, the height has been capped at around 35 storeys, as opposed to plans revealed last May by this newsroom for one of the towers to be 40 storeys high. The site, according to the master plan, would include one office tower, one mixed use/residential tower and a hotel and retail outlets, which seems to be in-line with the developer’s original proposals.