The Paceville Masterplan
This is a communication which I sent on behalf of my family to the Environment and Development Planning Committee dated 31 October in view of the discussion on the Paceville Masterplan.
Hon. Franco Mercieca MP, Committee Chairman, Hon. Committee Members,
With reference to the Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday 2 November during which the Paceville Masterplan will be discussed, we would like to share some thoughts from the perspective of residents in the area. We have read the Masterplan from cover to cover. Our family have lived in the area for decades, the first members of our family started living in the area in 1956 and still reside here to this day.
We have never resorted to writing such kind of communication, however the situation that we find ourselves in warrants it.
We cannot deny that over the past years, development in Paceville has been sporadic and no efforts were made to ensure that development takes place within certain specifications and rules. This has resulted in a hodgepodge of buildings where commercial outlets have been allowed to operate in residential areas or areas very close to people’s homes.
Therefore, the fact that a Masterplan has been drafted, in itself is welcomed and is a step in the right direction. What is also positive is the plan to upgrade the infrastructure that is so badly needed in the area, roads, sewage and water etc. Foul smells being emitted due to blockage in the drains are a common occurrence, just walk by Baystreet, usually in the morning. The present infrastructure cannot bear any further development without being upgraded.
We need to keep in mind that the area that is included in the Masterplan, is a hub for all kinds of things such as commercial and tourism activities, but is also a residential area.
However, there are a number of concerns/issues which we would like to list in no particular order which are not exhaustive and must be addressed: • ‘Paceville’ in the Masterplan includes vast areas of St Julian’s including St George’s Bay, Swieqi and Pembroke. These areas have never been considered or even included as part of Paceville. This area includes where we live. The outreach to the general public as well as to the residents in the area has only been through a slick, feel-good and strong marketing campaign. The Planning Authority has not accepted to meet residents when the local councils have tried to organise meetings. This at least has been partly addressed through a meeting • scheduled for 7 November. We question whether such a scale of a project only requires one meeting with the public; The ambiguity in the plans, e.g land reclamation is only mentioned once and not much information is provided. The lack of understanding that the ramifications of this Masterplan which will not only effect Paceville and surrounding areas of Pembroke and Swieqi but also further afar, e.g. Madliena, Sliema, Gżira etc. The fact that once this consultation period is over, a local plan will be designed and this will be presented as final and which cannot be revoked; The lack of a sustainable plan; The Masterplan states that this will take five years to build, this is very ambitious indeed. As Maltese citizens, we are not blind (or deaf) to what goes around us. The Pendergardens project has been going on for eight years and still has a long way to go; Mistra remains a ghost building; an unsightly hole is still present in Gżira, when this project was to start years ago; and Midi have not yet finalised the project of The Point or Manoel Island, etc. What will happen if construction starts and due to lack of funds this stops. What guarantees will be made in order to ensure that a Masterplan will be fully implemented • • • • • and completed to the same standards and specifications of the original plans. • We are aware that following the Public Domain Act, the foreshore must be accessible to the public. This is something that the Masterplan seems to have forgotten; For the Masterplan to be built, a number of private properties need to be expropriated. This is at best illegal. Land cannot be expropriated by the government and given to the private sector. Where will €585 million come from, from tax payers? Who will pay for the upgrading of the infrastructure? Should not the developers foot the bill. Yes, a Masterplan is needed for the area, but not this Masterplan. A Masterplan which looks at the area in a holistic way, which includes impact assessments on the environment, the social fabric of the area, infrastructure, geology etc. Finally, we need a Masterplan that has the Maltese people as well as the residents at heart and is not based on the developer’s needs only. • •
We thank you for taking the time to read our concerns. Only Parliament has the power to ensure that any development projects are planned with the citizen at their very core.
Anthony Gatt on behalf of Family Gatt Swieqi