Planning reconstruction from the bottom up
To look at them, the photos showing a reconstructed Paceville and St George’s Bay are pleasant enough – wide roads left for pedestrians, gleaming towers or skyscrapers, palm trees and people enjoying themselves. Could not be better. A dream. It is only when you try to marry this view of the future to the present that doubts sprout. What is to be done with the buildings and the outlets that are found to be in excess of requirements? More fundamentally: who got the idea to draw up this plan, why was it not made public at inception, and why was the general public not consulted before it was made public? This is where the government, not the first time, becomes a cropper. Losing the good idea in the welter of public debate and worse, in widespread suspicion, there is something behind all this.
It would seem that the plan was conceived by the big hotel magnates present or to be present in the area and that it is tailored to their specific needs. Hence the ‘ethnic cleansing’ to be carried out in the area with the ‘undesirables’’. Thus was a good idea buried under a ton of cement. To throw out the proposal and leave everything – in this case Paceville – as it is means to leave the area in the sorry state it is in now. It would also mean that no proposal to reconstruct Malta’s neglected areas can be entertained. What the Paceville moghuls need to understand is that this is not a greenfield site, where you can plan and distribute according to plan. Malta is no Dubai with an infinite expanse of sand, where one can plan according to one’s desires.
So too are all the other areas in Malta, even those most neglected.
Let’s think of any other area in Malta, except Paceville. All need reconstruction, many times very heavy reconstruction. There are precedents dating back to the efforts at slum clearance. To do that requires the power of the law, a heavy outlay to provide alternative accommodation and an assurance that equity will be sought at all times.
The so-called Paceville master plan did nothing of the sort. There is nothing about the funds that are needed, and certainly nothing saying that the hotel owners who can benefit from this proposal forking out sums to help relocation. Nor is there anything about any legislative proposal in this regard.
So, interesting and fascinating as the proposal is, it has to be returned to the drawing board until such a time when it is re-presented not as a proposal of the few, but as a proposal that carries the consensus of as many interested persons as possible.