Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Tower set to dominate Sliema skyline
Malta Today 18 November 2015
The building of a huge 38-storey tower proposed by Gasan Group is set to have a dramatic impact on views enjoyed by pedestrians strolling along Ghar id-Dud and will also break the skyline when viewed from as far as Rinella Bay in Kalkara.
An addendum to the Environment Impact Assessment, which includes photomontages of the project, notes that the project will “dominate the (Ghar id-Dud) skyline” and result in a “large change to the overall view”.
The building will also interrupt “the otherwise relatively uniform historic view” resulting in a “noticeable change” when viewed from Rinella Bay in Kalkara.
The skyline is also “broken” when viewed from Marsamxett Harbour from Triq l-Assedju l-Kbir.
When viewed from is-Sur tal-Inglizi, the tower will rise above the Midi and Fort Cambridge development, which already break the skyline.
But the tower will be barely visible from Mdina.
The revised EIA claims that it is “hard to predict” the cumulative impact of the 38-storey tower together with other developments which can be proposed in the future.
The study refers to the proposed 40-storey hotel on the site of the former Holiday Inn near Fort Cambridge but notes that this development “is still at planning stage and has no valid development permit”. Therefore no photomontages showing the impact of the two developments together have been published.
Originally proposed as a 32-storey development in 2005, the height was reduced to 23 storeys in 2011 and raised again, to 38 storeys, in 2014.
Although the height of the main tower has been increased the number of apartments has been reduced from 181 to 163. This is because originally the project also included a 15-storey tower, which has now been reduced to five storeys.
This means that the additional daily traffic generated by the development has been reduced from 4,240 to 3,503.
Developers who insist they have a right to develop the area claim that the project would have the same traffic impact if developed as a low-rise development consisting of 26 eight-storey blocks.
Since the number of additional cars has been reduced the EIA concludes that there is no need for additional studies on air quality.
The original study predicted the impact of the project on pedestrians at Gnien George Bonello Dupuis as “negligible” for PM10 (particulate matter) and slight for nitrogen dioxide while that on sensitive receptors on ix-Xatt ta’ Qui Si Sana was deemed to be slight for PM10 to moderate for nitrogen dioxide. The project’s impact on air quality is now expected to remain the same or “slightly improve”.
If approved the town square project will also include a new retail development in the open spaces around the tower as a continuation of high street shopping in Bisazza Street and Tower Road. It will also include the restoration of Villa Drago.