Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sliema residents want to sue government over tall buildings epidemic

Ivan Martin
Times of Malta 18 May 2016
Sliema residents want the local council to take legal action against the government to stop the “gross overdevelopment of tall buildings”.
“If the council is really concerned with the amount of construction that has gripped Sliema, then it should take the government to task, especially seeing that politicians seem incapable of legislating against developers,” resident Simon Camilleri told a general meeting of the local council on Monday evening.
During the meeting, the local council presented its annual report and invited residents to express concerns and give feedback. Dr Camilleri was one of several residents who raised the issue of overdevelopment, calling on the council to file a class action suit – a lawsuit filed by a group of people – against the Planning Authority and the government for adversely affecting their quality of life.
He said the government was using new legislation to circumvent regulations that once protected Sliema and its residents from mega-development. The result was the spreading of a concrete jungle that had grown from a small tumour to a full-blown infection, adversely affecting residents’ quality of life.
Replying to residents’ calls for legal action, councillor Michael Briguglio said such a move had not been ruled out. He said the council would first have to go through the entire planning process, filing objections and making appeals against certain large projects before considering any further remedial action.
Let’s face it, Sliema is practically ruined
Construction in the Sliema area is often a topic of public debate and has come to the fore again recently in the wake of announcements of plans for high-rise buildings in the area. Among the projects in the pipeline is a building set to be the tallest hotel on the island.
The property, planned to form part of the Fort Cambridge complex in Tigné, will have 40 floors, roughly double the height of the Portomaso building in neighbouring St Julian’s.
Another mega-project, the 38-storey Townsquare towers, is included in plans for the redevelopment of the old Union Club site. Plans for the two towers, and others in neighbouring localities, have raised concerns of traffic impact and overshadowing among Sliema residents, who fear the projects will attract more residents, traffic congestion and pollution in the already-crowded area.
Resident Toni Buhagiar, 73, said he had lived in Sliema all his life but could hardly recognise his hometown when he walked through its once-picturesque streets.
Tall buildings, he complained, now dominated the urban space he so dearly loved and he expressed fears the new towering projects earmarked for the locality could push it over the edge.
“Let’s face it, Sliema is practically ruined. Now, with these new mega-projects, it’s going to be a nightmare,” he said.

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