Paceville Master Plan: greed or need?

Land use plan­ning is es­sen­tially pub­lic con­trol over the use and de­vel­op­ment of land, so it nec­es­sar­ily fol­lows that it should not be a spec­u­la­tors’ shop­ping list, im­ple­mented by the state.

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -

An ar­chi­tect and civil en­gi­neer, the au­thor is deputy chair­man of Al­ter­nat­tiva Demokratika – The Green Party in Malta. ca­co­par­do­carm@gmail.com, www.carmel­ca­co­pardo.word­press.com

Un­for­tu­nately, the Paceville Master Plan is just such a shop­ping list, as it col­lates the re­quire­ments of nine mega projects and pre­sents them as a ‘master plan’. In fact San­dro Chet­cuti, on be­half of the Malta De­vel­op­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, re­acted to the Master Plan by stat­ing that it “fails to ad­dress the pos­si­bil­ity of new projects that could in­volve ex­ist­ing build­ings and con­cen­trated too much on nine par­tic­u­lar sites.” Mr Chet­cuti’s As­so­ci­a­tion is also feel­ing ex­cluded.

And the res­i­dents have the same feel­ing; they have been ex­cluded by a master plan that fo­cuses on the in­ter­ests of busi­ness – in par­tic­u­lar the in­ter­ests of mega-spec­u­la­tors.

Not so long ago, in May 2012, The So­cial Af­fairs Com­mit­tee of Malta’s Par­lia­ment pub­lished a 63-page re­port on Paceville in which it em­pha­sised the fact that right there, in the midst of this en­ter­tain­ment Mecca, there was also a res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity. The con­flicts be­tween th­ese two in­ter­ests can at times be sub­stan­tial and yet the Master Plan ig­nores th­ese con­flicts com­pletely. The only res­i­dents in which the Master Plan is in­ter­ested are those who will pur­chase apart­ments in the new de­vel­op­ments.

The five over-arch­ing ob­jec­tives of the Master Plan em­pha­sise the cre­ation of a de­vel­op­ment vi­sion that can be de­scribed in one word: ‘Dubai­ifi­ca­tion’. Painted in glossy words as ‘Clear Brand and Iden­tity’, ‘Ac­cess and Con­nec­tiv­ity’, ‘Planned and Man­aged Change’, ‘Qual­ity Place-Mak­ing’ and ‘Pri­vate-Pub­lic Part­ner­ships’, at the end of the day ‘Dubai-ifi­ca­tion’ is what the Paceville Master Plan is all about.

The prob­lems cur­rently faced by Paceville are ba­si­cally no dif­fer­ent from those faced by other parts of Malta. Yet the Master Plan doc­u­ment wastes a sub­stan­tial num­ber of its 234 pages in or­der to em­pha­sise the ob­vi­ous. For ex­am­ple, it em­pha­sises that Paceville is dom­i­nated by traf­fic and on­street park­ing. How­ever, the con­sul­tants draw­ing up the plan then stopped short of propos­ing – as a pre­ferred op­tion – mea­sures that would rad­i­cally ad­dress the area’s de­pen­dence on cars. They did not choose the op­tion to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that is not dom­i­nated by the car, thus miss­ing an op­por­tu­nity to elim­i­nate traf­fic con­ges­tion in Paceville that would have had the ad­di­tional ben­e­fit of im­prov­ing lo­cal air qual­ity.

While the Master Plan con­sul­tants went into great de­tail about is­sues that are cov­ered in var­i­ous na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy doc­u­ments, they did not con­sider it nec­es­sary to ex­am­ine in any de­tail the area’s tourism-car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity. The Master Plan does not ex­am­ine whether it makes sense to keep on en­cour­ag­ing ho­tel con­struc­tion in an area that is al­ready sat­u­rated with such de­vel­op­ment. It takes the is­sue for granted and opts to pro­pose re­serv­ing the Paceville coast­line for fu­ture ho­tel re­de­vel­op­ment and ex­pan­sion. This mat­ter calls for some se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion, as tourism can­not con­tinue on a never-end­ing ex­pand­ing tra­jec­tory due to the sub­stan­tial en­vi­ron­men­tal con­straints that we face on a daily ba­sis.

The cherry on the cake is the ref­er­ence to “po­ten­tial land recla­ma­tion” on the Por­tomaso site. The Master Plan warns that, though rel­a­tively shal­low, the site lies very close to a Marine Spe­cial Con­ser­va­tion Area, a fact which ne­ces­si­tates a very sen­si­tive ap­proach.

The man­ner in which the Master Plan is pre­sented tries to cam­ou­flage its ob­vi­ous spec­u­la­tor “shop­ping-list” fea­tures. Most of the projects in­di­cated have been in the pipe­line for years, and for each and ev­ery one of them there is a grow­ing list of con­cerned res­i­dents from the whole of Paceville and neigh­bour­ing lo­cal­i­ties. By try­ing to present the mega-spec­u­la­tors’ greed as a na­tional need, the pro­posed Master Plan is do­ing a dis­ser­vice to the nev­erend­ing de­bate on land use plan­ning in Malta.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.