Malta Today 6th April 2014
The outer part of Sliema’s creek is being earmarked for a land reclamation project and the development of a superyacht hub, Malta Today has learnt.
The project, modelled on similar projects as in San Tropez and Dubai, will create more space for commercial outlets, parking facilities and embellishment features.
It will also drastically change the social fabric of the Sliema Strand, frequented by pedestrians who can walk along the sea, enjoying the unobstructed view of Manoel Island and Valletta in an unbroken walk from St Julian’s Bay right into Gzira.
The permanent berthing of gigantic yachts, which can be over 100 metres long, could block traditional sea views.
On Thursday, economy minister Chris Cardona said that Malta should strive to become the “obvious choice” in the superyacht industry. He was speaking at the second annual conference for stakeholders, aptly entitled ‘Opportunities for Superyachts’, at the Westin Dragonara resort and sponsored in part by Fenech and Fenech Advocates and Transport Malta. Cardona said that Malta must continue to evolve in the sector and not risk becoming complacent.
The project may include a breakwater to render the area a safe harbour all year round, as well as land reclamation opposite St Anne Square.
Malta already offers superyacht berths at the Grand Harbour Marina and at the Manoel Island Marina.
The Malta Environment and Planning Authority is presently considering a smaller land reclamation project proposed by a number of hotels on the Gzira side of the Strand.
The project envisions the development of a swimming pool and other facilities on reclaimed land, adjacent to the present promenade, which will remain public.
But while presently people can walk along the coast, looking directly at the sea between Gzira and Manoel Island, the proposed area, immediately adjacent to the sea, will be occupied by private facilities.
According to MEPA’s Environment Protection Directorate, this negative impact can be offset by providing adequate pedestrian access along the seaward edge of the proposed reclaimed coast.
There are an estimated 5,000 superyachts around the world. Eclipse, the world’s largest megayacht and reportedly owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, is 162 metres long. They bring wealthy owners to picturesque harbour cities, but they can be a source of discontent for residents.
Plans for a superyacht marina in Port Vell in Barcelona were met by angry protests by residents, but the marina was ultimately approved by local authorities. The Salamanca Group intends to make the marina home to yachts up to 180 metres long, bringing the planet’s growing club of mega-rich to a marina that it says “dominates the heart of Barcelona”.
But Barcelona residents say the boats will dwarf the neighbourhood’s famously narrow, four- or five-storey blocks of flats. The plans include the establishment of a privatised high security zone, surrounded by a fence, as well as the construction of a car park and new buildings.
Note: In reaction to the news item above, I believe that the privatization and commodification of such public space should be opposed. Michael Briguglio, Local Councillor