Paceville de­vel­op­ers might have to go back to the draw­ing board

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land

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.

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