Several residents and Moviment Graffitti have appealed the PA’s decision to approve a Waterpolo Pitch, clubhouse and restaurant next to Triq is-Salini in Marsaskala. The development would involve extensive excavation of the seabed and dredging, limit the public’s access and enjoyment of the coast and create multiple inconveniences through the commercialisation of a residential area in Marsaskala. The appellants have also requested the suspension of works for the duration of the appeal.
In their appeal grounds, the objectors highlight the development’s non-conformity with numerous planning policies. The Local Plan clearly outlines the types of development allowed in that area and waterpolo pitches are not one of them. The applicants have tried to justify their development as “maritime based”, when in reality the waterpolo pitch will contain freshwater, not saltwater. A pool using freshwater does not have to be built in the sea, so much so that Malta’s National Pool, which uses freshwater, is situated inland. The building of a huge structure in Marsaskala Bay would also be in breach of SPED provisions concerning aesthetics and the public’s accessibility to the shoreline.
Alternative places, such as the redevelopment of the already existing pitch in Żonqor, were not considered by the applicants.
The appellants argue that the harm done by this structure cannot in any way be justified by its benefits, especially in view of the fact that this waterpolo pitch will be used only during the summer months. The Tal-Qroqq National Pool will be used during the rest of the year. The appellants also note that there are attempts to change the zoning of the area to allow the public open space on the shore adjacent to the site to be changed into a zone where buildings and hotels are allowed. If this had to come about then the Marsaskala pitch would easily become the hotel lido – another example of privatising public land for private gain and turning the natural coast into concrete.
The appeal presents several arguments underlining the deleterious impact of this massive concrete structure on both people and the environment. Protected flora, including Posidonia beds, would be obliterated in order to reclaim the seabed for the construction of the pitch. Moreover, a huge concrete slab in the small Marsaskala Bay is clearly out of place and will result in a very negative visual impact. The project would also increase traffic and noise pollution, as well as reduce parking spaces, in an already congested residential area. The PA report recommending approval had falsely given the impression that the pitch would be situated in an entertainment area, not a predominantly residential one.
This appeal was filed thanks to many residents and concerned citizens that contributed financially to covering the legal and professional fees. People are clearly fed up of having to continually fight against development projects that threaten their environment and quality of life.