In­cu­bat­ing Paceville… Look­ing at the big­ger pic­ture

The devil is in the de­tail, the scep­tics keep say­ing. But by start­ing with a master plan for Paceville, we are ef­fec­tively in­cu­bat­ing one area and care­fully fol­low­ing its de­vel­op­ment, with a view to repli­cate this ex­per­i­ment on a na­tional scale.

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS - Mr Borg is an ar­chi­tect and the Direc­tor of Plan­ning, Plan­ning Au­thor­ity Chris Borg

The Paceville Master Plan in fact is not an end in it­self but a way on how to plan ahead in a coun­try that is clearly ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a rapid pace of eco­nomic growth. That is why the Paceville Master Plan looks at the big­ger pic­ture.

The Paceville Master Plan, cur­rently at pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion stage, is more than a land use plan with a sup­port­ing trans­port strat­egy. It is a master plan with rec­om­men­da­tions for spa­tial plan­ning to guide the re­gen­er­a­tion of Paceville and pur­sue growth in a sus­tain­able man­ner.

It seeks to in­te­grate nat­u­ral and cul­tural as­sets with the over­all con­cept of lo­cal iden­tity, mak­ing Paceville a sought-af­ter space to live and work in, and pro­vide a high qual­ity tourism and re­cre­ation des­ti­na­tion. The doc­u­ment il­lus­trates the po­ten­tial im­pacts from the pro­jected growth if this is un­der­taken with­out any plan­ning in­ter­ven­tions, high­light­ing in par­tic­u­lar the trans­port-re­lated prob­lems this would gen­er­ate.

Three dif­fer­ent strate­gic op­tions for land use and an­other three strate­gic op­tions for trans­port were con­sid­ered by the con­sul­tants on the ba­sis of the pro­jected growth. The land use op­tion with the high­est pro­por­tion of open pub­lic space, and the trans­port op­tion with a bal­anced ap­proach to trans­port man­age­ment, af­ter con­sul­ta­tions with Trans­port Malta and their con­sul­tants, was se­lected as the pre­ferred op­tion for which the plan­ning frame­work is to be pre­pared. This is the op­tion be­ing sub­jected to pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

A tall build­ing strat­egy is put for­ward which has to be seen in con­junc­tion with the rec­om­men­da­tions to se­cure pub­lic views as well as ac­cess and en­joy­ment of the coast. The re­stric­tion on de­vel­op­ment in sen­si­tive ar­eas such as Wied Harq Hamiem and the un­der­ground cav­ern sys­tem safe­guards their pro­tected sta­tus while in­creas­ing the pub­lic’s op­por­tu­ni­ties to ap­pre­ci­ate the ex­ist­ing nat­u­ral her­itage. Cu­mu­la­tively, the pro­posed mea­sures for green open spa­ces and views are aimed at pro­vid­ing a high qual­ity en­vi­ron­ment. Sim­i­lar pro­pos­als to pro­mote cul­tural her­itage as­sets in the area are tar­geted to safe­guard her­itage while at the same time con­trib­ute to pro­mote a dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter of a much higher qual­ity to the en­tire area.

Trans­port and waste man­age­ment mea­sures are de­vel­oped to pro­vide for an im­proved lo­cal am­bi­ent air qual­ity and sup­port for in­creased col­lec­tion of sep­a­rated waste, in line with ex­ist­ing na­tional strate­gies and ob­jec­tives. The master plan also makes rec­om­men­da­tion for sup­port­ing in­fra­struc­ture, from en­ergy to wa­ter and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion. Fur­ther­more, de­sign pro­pos­als for sus­tain­able ur­ban wa­ter drainage sys­tems in­tro­duce tan­gi­ble mea­sures for the up­take of green in­fra­struc­ture, with the ob­jec­tive of al­le­vi­at­ing if not pre­vent­ing the im­pacts from sur­face wa­ter runoff dur­ing storm events.

Perit Carmel Ca­co­pardo’s “pre­lim­i­nary peek” in The Malta In­de­pen­dent on Sun­day pub­lished on 25th Sep­tem­ber, misses a few of the im­por­tant as­pects which are ex­plained above. Com­par­ing Im­riehel and Tigné to the Paceville Master Plan is not cor­rect as the master plan caters for the in­crease in vol­ume over and above what is stip­u­lated by the cur­rent lo­cal plan. With re­gard to the Mir Ali re­port and the ref­er­ence to Floor Area Ra­tion Pol­icy, one should note that this pol­icy does not al­low any in­crease in vol­ume which might af­fect trans­port and in­fra­struc­ture. It is also now a re­quire­ment to pro­duce a num­ber of stud­ies, in­clud­ing So­cial Im­pact As­sess­ments, which will en­able de­ci­sion mak­ers to de­cide whether the pro­posed build­ing fits in the re­spec­tive ur­ban set-up.

This land use strat­egy seeks to give Paceville a new and dis­tinct iden­tity, based on its ex­ist­ing fea­tures that can be ex­pe­ri­enced all year round by res­i­dents, vis­i­tors and tourist alike.

Fur­ther to the cur­rent pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, the draft master plan will be sub­jected to a So­cial Im­pact As­sess­ment as well as a Strate­gic En­vi­ron­men­tal As­sess­ment.

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