Residents and other public custodians in Cospicua are up in arms over a new housing development that threatens to eliminate part of the social fabric of the locality.
The application has been ongoing since 2000 with a Parliamentary Question having been asked on the subject in 2011 by then Shadow Minister for Housing Stefan Buontempo to then Minister Dolores Cristina. PA Number is 01520/00 and is for 120 residential units and 56 garages. The area under development is a large swathe between Triq l-Irlandizi and Triq Hanover.
Speaking to Malta Winds, Bir Mula Heritage Director and Curator John Vella explained that there has been no study or impact assessment on the area. Work on the project has just started recently with the demolition of the buildings.
“Demolishing historic buildings with an excuse for more social housing units at Bormla is detrimental in an already over-crowded area of social housing units (St. Helen’s Area). In PQ 26518 ‘Bormla – progett propost’ Seduta 365 – 14/06/2011 06:00 PM the then Minister confirmed that no study or impact assessment was carried and yet the Planning Authority and Housing Authority continue with their plans that will destroy our heritage instead of conserving it”.
Vella said that the area consisted of a number of historical buildings which deserved further restoration and conservation. Amongst these is the former residence of the late Prime Minister Dom Mintoff, a Grand Masters palazzo, a tower, underground structures including a rock-cut Byzantine church, and hard limestone paving among other for which there seem to be no plans for conservation. Additionally the reply to the PQ noted that the Housing Authority was not obliged to carry out a Traffic Impact Assessment or create a pedestrian zone.
“The area is already overcrowded with social housing units apart from the fact that several families are being uprooted from the area where they have lived for decades. The buildings are also in an Urban Conservation area that are supposedly to be restored and protected. This is shameful on all authorities concerned and responsible for the safeguarding of heritage and old urban areas”, Vella added.
In view of this Bir Mula Heritage is holding a presentation of an Inventory of heritage and historic sites at Bormla to mark International Museum Day on Wednesday 18th May, at its venue. The Inventory was compiled on the initiative of the same private museum and a copy was given to a number of local and national authorities back in 2010.