‘The Paceville master plan must be sent back to the draw­ing board’ – Carmel Ca­co­pardo

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land

AD Deputy Chair­per­son Carmel Ca­co­pardo be­lieves that the Paceville master plan must be sent back to the draw­ing board and re­spect laws pre­vi­ously passed by the House of Par­lia­ment.

Speak­ing dur­ing a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee meet­ing last night, Mr Ca­co­pardo said that the master plan calls Paceville a prime coastal lo­ca­tion, yet seems to ig­nore re­cent leg­is­la­tion re­gard­ing coastal ar­eas. The AD Deputy Chair­per­son was re­fer­ring to the 15m coastal perime­ter, and the fore­shore which is pub­lic do­main. He said that sub­stan­tial parts of use of the coast in the plan, in­clud­ing parts given through an em­phy­teu­sis to third par­ties, con­flict with laws in this re­gard.

“This is not a law that was ap­proved through a one vote dif­fer­ence, it was unan­i­mously ap­proved. I ex­pect you know what you are do­ing when vot­ing, or at least most of the time. This means that the con­sul­tants who drew up this plan, did not pay at­ten­tion to pub­lic pol­icy that was clear be­fore the master plan was pre­sented. This means that who­ever gave di­rec­tion to the con­sul­tants, at some point ei­ther did not in­form them, or in­formed them and it was ig­nored.

“This is cen­tral to the whole is­sue. We can­not have Par­lia­ment giv­ing a clear pol­icy di­rec­tion, and some months after ap­proval, have it ridiculed through a master plan like this”.

He also said that this part of the coast, is used by many for wa­ter­sports. “I only found one ref­er­ence to sports in the master plan. It does not pay at­ten­tion to the face that there are wind­surf­ing is­sues, div­ing, wa­ter-ski­ing etc, used by Mal­tese and tourists alike. As we know, div­ing is a niche tourism area.

“I think the master plan is ig­nor­ing the use of the area, and this is also re­flected in the is­sue of land recla­ma­tion”. He said that there is no need of land recla­ma­tion, or the need for so many high rise build­ings.

“We need to make use of the empty prop­er­ties around the is­land. I think this master plan should go back to the draw­ing board, so that the most ba­sic things voted on in Par­lia­ment be ad­hered to”.

On be­half of the Plan­ning Au­thor­ity, Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man Jo­han But­tigieg said that there is coastal ac­cess around the whole area. “This is a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion and if there are is­sues with pub­lic do­main, sub­mit your is­sues”. Re­gard­ing wa­ter sports, he said that by ex­pand­ing the beach it will help fa­cil­i­tate ac­tiv­i­ties.

Dr Noel But­tigieg Sci­cluna, a St Ge­orge’s Park res­i­dent, said that St Ge­orge’s Bay is the ful­crum of the cen­tre of Paceville. “The bay is en­joyed by ev­ery­one. One­fourth of it is known as Cresta Quay. I would like to in­vite you to come, phys­i­cally, and see Cresta Quay and its foot­print. My ques­tion is, can you tell me what value added from an en­vi­ron­ment and aes­thetic as­pect, through the sug­ges­tion in the master plan that a 30 storey tower be plonked on the side, can be seen?”

Jo­han But­tigieg, in re­sponse, said that the master plans saw how the mass­ing in the whole area would be af­fected and not a par­tic­u­lar zone. “In the opin­ion of the ex­perts, they be­lieved that de­vel­op­ment should oc­cur there. We have no prob­lem ques­tion­ing the ex­perts”.

PN MP Ryan Cal­lus said that it wouldn’t cost too much to cre­ate a vis­ual model of how the area would look like dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod.

Mr Jo­han But­tigieg said that he will look and see if it can be done within a week or two. He also stressed that this is the first draft of the plan, and said that it most likely won’t be the last one. Mr But­tigieg also said that the con­sul­tants look at the ideal site, and as such this does not mean things can’t move a bit.

Gar­net In­vest­ments Ltds’ (owner of Cresta Quay) An­ton Camil­leri said that where Mr But­tigieg Sci­cluna lives is in a high build­ing. He said that the sports fa­cil­i­ties will form part of the ho­tel. “Maybe it is be­cause his view will be ru­ined?” He stressed that the Cresta Quay de­vel­op­ment shown on the master plan was not his de­vel­op­ment pro­posal, and he would need to con­duct stud­ies to see what needs to be done.

The Com­mit­tee agreed that a num­ber of doc­u­ments be pre­sented by the ex­perts who drew up the plan. PN MP Ge­orge Pul­li­cino said that a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of those who drew up the plan should be brought be­fore the com­mit­tee, and the com­mit­tee agreed.

Pres­i­dent of the Tourism, Hos­pi­tal­ity and Leisure Sec­tor of the GRTU Philip Fenech spoke of the need to be care­ful and not break the eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment there. “I want the ex­perts to ex­plain, from all as­pects, why cer­tain streets will make cer­tain ar­eas more ac­ces­si­ble than oth­ers etc”. He said that some parts will in­te­grate well with the plan, while oth­ers will be elim­i­nated. Where it is pos­si­ble for them to in­te­grate, then they should be, he said, ex­plain­ing that there will be cer­tain per­sons lit­er­ally put out of busi­ness overnight. He said that those who will be af­fected neg­a­tively should be given ad­e­quate com­pen­sa­tion.

The Cham­ber of Ar­chi­tects has es­tab­lished a work­ing group to look into the plan, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive said.

Fol­low­ing ques­tions by a Front Har­sien ODZ rep­re­sen­ta­tive, the PA failed to say how much govern­ment would need to pay to re­gen­er­ate Paceville. They said the master plan men­tions EU funds, yet it is still too early to state the fi­nan­cial pro­por­tions of each party.

FAA’s Tara Cas­sar asked if there were any plans for a yacht ma­rina, to which Mr Jo­han But­tigieg said that there aren’t any seen in the master plan.

A DLH rep­re­sen­ta­tive asked for the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion time­frame to be ex­tended, given its im­por­tance. PL MP Franco Mer­cieca said that the Com­mit­tee will dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity among them­selves. PN MP Marthese Portelli said that ex­tend­ing the pe­riod makes sense given the lack of in­for­ma­tion needed for a proper con­sul­ta­tion, such as fig­ures re­gard­ing the land recla­ma­tion, etc. The DLH rep­re­sen­ta­tive said that more con­sid­er­a­tion should have been given to res­i­dents in the area, and PN MP Ge­orge Pul­li­cino agreed.

Is­sues re­gard­ing ex­pro­pri­a­tion

PN MP Marthese Portelli said that through the master plan, there will be peo­ple who will end up out of a home through road de­vel­op­ments etc. What kind of com­pen­sa­tion will be given to them, she asked.

In re­sponse, A GPD of­fi­cial ex­plained that a req­ui­si­tion order will be made, and the value will be es­tab­lished as is in the law.

“What wor­ries me is that a num­ber of ex­pro­pri­a­tions will oc­cur, which would mean a large amount of funds to be paid by the Lands Depart­ment,” PN MP Marthese Portelli said.

“I be­lieve that cal­cu­lat­ing these work­ings is cru­cial. You can­not have an el­derly woman end up on the street un­able to buy an­other home. These are con­cerns that, while it is good that one has the master plan, must be con­sid­ered now so that ev­ery­one would end up ok”.

An­other GPD of­fi­cial said that the cri­te­ria re­lat­ing to val­ues is clear in law, and that fi­nan­cial es­ti­mates can­not be given un­til the plan has been pre­sented. Ex­pro­pri­a­tion can only hap­pen for pub­lic in­ter­est, he ex­plained.

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