Several organisations have submitted a detailed objection to the Planning Authority (PA) in connection with the DB Group project on the ex-ITS site. A summarized version of the objection has been placed on an online form and can be submitted to the PA by the general public.
Despite the company’s aggressive public relations campaign falsely claiming that the project has significantly changed, a thorough review of the revised plans reveals that the project’s monstrosity remains virtually the same. If approved, the tower and the hotel would engulf surrounding localities and their residents under massive structures as well as further push Paceville towards residential areas. The project also remains as damaging to the surrounding natural environment as it was before the revised plans.
In their objection, the organisations highlight a number of planning policies being breached by the proposed plan for the ex-ITS site. The objectors state that the exaggerated massing, volume and height of the proposed development are out of context. The proposed hotel tower – 64m high – and the residential tower – 112.25m tall – by no means respect the topography and surrounding context. The shadowing cast by the superstructures will also have a deleterious effect upon the residences in the affected area.
Moreover, the objectors underline the detrimental impact on cultural heritage. The visual integrity of the Grade 2 Scheduled St George’s Barracks is highly endangered and no “Character Appraisal” of the context was carried out (in breach of Circular 3/20). Extensive and extremely risky rock-cutting will take place near the Grade 1 scheduled cave system of Ħarq Ħamiem, and within the ‘Buffer/Constraint Zone’ of the same cave system. There is no indication of whether the studies on its geological structure and vulnerability have been undertaken, and if so, on what data these studies were based on. It is also unclear what will happen to the Cold War bunker that was discovered through research carried out by the objectors. From the drawings provided, it is impossible to deduce to what extent the bunker is being retained and which elements will be lost.
A major concern relates to the excessive amount of traffic, noise and pollution the development will generate in the area. There are no updated Traffic Impact Assessments providing a holistic overview as to whether the current road infrastructure is sufficient to contain the increased traffic generated by the proposed project. The application does not include the infamous tunnel being touted by the DB Group as the solution to the traffic generated by the project. Moreover, a tunnel which is not funded by the developer is in breach of the Floor to Area Ratio policy; this policy requires applicants to contribute to the costs of measures implemented to accommodate the burdens and inconveniences generated by the development.
The objectors outline several other concerns, such as the breaches of Local Plan policies and a number of environmental considerations, including the excessive generation of inert waste and the lack of updated Environmental and Social Impact Assessments.
The objectors also disagree with these so-called “mitigating” measures proposed by the applicant and consider them to be merely another excuse for taking over more public land under the pretence of making amends. “Mitigation” measures include the decking of a rocky public beach designated as a Natura 2000 site and a surface car park for residents on a plot of land beyond the site conceded to the applicant.
The objectors are also requesting a physical hearing by the PA Board, since a virtual online hearing is no substitute for a physical hearing where the people can voice their opinion in line with their right to participate fully in the decision-making process.
- Bicycle Advocacy Group
- BirdLife Malta
- Din l-Art Helwa
- Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar
- Friends of the Earth Malta
- Moviment Graffitti
- Nature Trust Malta
- Sustainable Built Environment Malta
- The Archaeological Society of Malta
- Żminijietna – Voice of the Left