Open let­ter to Par­lia­ment’s En­vi­ron­ment and De­vel­op­ment Plan­ning Com­mit­tee

Malta Independent - - LETTERS -

With ref­er­ence to the Com­mit­tee meet­ing held on Wed­nes­day 2 Novem­ber dur­ing which the Paceville mas­ter plan was dis­cussed, we would like to share some thoughts from the per­spec­tive of res­i­dents in the area. We have read the mas­ter plan 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 were com­mer­cial out­lets have been al­lowed to op­er­ate in res­i­den­tial ar­eas or ar­eas very close to peo­ple’s homes. There­fore, the fact that a mas­ter plan has been drafted in it­self is wel­comed and 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 emit­ted due to blocked 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 in­cluded in the mas­ter plan is a hub for all kinds of things such as com­mer­cial and tourism ac­tiv­i­ties 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 mas­ter plan 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 did not ac­cept to meet res­i­dents when lo­cal coun­cils tried to or­ga­nize meet­ings. This at least has been partly ad­dressed through a meet­ing sched­uled for 7 Novem­ber. We ques­tion whether the scale of such 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 mas­ter plan which will not only af­fect Paceville and sur­round­ing ar­eas of Pem­broke and Swieqi but also fur­ther afar, e.g. Madliena, Sliema, Gzira etc. • The fact that once this con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod is over, a lo­cal plan will be de­signed. This will be pre­sented as fi­nal and can­not be re­voked; •The lack of a sus­tain­able plan; •The mas­ter plan states that this will take five years to build, which is very am­bi­tious indeed. As Mal­tese cit­i­zens, we are not blind (or deaf) to what goes on 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 vast hole is still present in Gzira, when this project was to start years ago; and Midi has not yet fi­nal­ized 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 to en­sure that a mas­ter plan 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 mas­ter plan seems to have for­got­ten; •For the mas­ter plan 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 tax­pay­ers? Who will pay for the up­grad­ing of the in­fra­struc­ture? Should not the de­vel­op­ers foot the bill? Yes, a mas­ter plan is needed for the area, but not this mas­ter plan. A mas­ter plan 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 mas­ter plan that has the Mal­tese peo­ple as well as the res­i­dents at heart and is not based on the de­vel­op­ers 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 the Gatt Family Swieqi

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