Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Townsquare and Fort Cambridge have political implications

"Labour will lose floaters"
Sliema local councillor and sociologist Michael Briguglio takes Jacob Borg through the potential pitfalls of opting for high-rise developments in Sliema without all the necessary studies being carried out.
The Prime Minister risks losing the support of Sliema’s floating votes and switchers if two mega high-rise planning applications are approved for the area, Sliema councillor and sociologist Michael Briguglio warned in an interview yesterday.
Sliema residents took to the streets last week to protest against proposals for a 40-storey hotel at Fort Cambridge in Tigné and the 38-storey Townsquare Tower in Qui-Si-Sana.
A court injunction has been filed by the eNGO Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar to halt a decisionby the planning authority on the Townsquare project, since claims were made that certain studies related to the development had been withheld or were incomplete.
Dr Briguglio is adamant that if the Planning Authority (PA) gives the go-ahead to these proposals, it will result in Prime Minister Joseph Muscat taking a hit at the polls.
“We are talking about politics here. Development and politics go hand in hand. I know that the Prime Minister is very savvy with popular opinion. I think he knows that if the PA approved the Townsquare and Fort Cambridge developments, he is going to have a big political problem with switchers and floaters.
“I am from Sliema. I am not a Nationalist. I am in the Green Party. I speak to many people in Sliema, and there is a lot of disappointment about how the government is basically not showing enough concern for the environment and for citizens’ basic rights,” Dr Briguglio said.
He flags the lack of proper studies for the Townsquare project as being a point of major concern.
He is critical of the PA for serving as a “rubber stamp” for such developments, rather than doing its job by ensuring that all the necessary studies have taken place.
“Sliema is already very congested. The two high-rise proposals would cause traffic havoc. It seems that the government or PA is justifying the projects simply by saying that Tigné has been designated a high-rise area. The starting point should be analysing whether Tigné or other areas in Malta have the necessary infrastructure to support such high-rise developments.”
How can you accept a planning application without any analysis on sewage and drainage?
“It is a sham that the PA accepts such development applications without the necessary impact assessments having taken place.
“How can you accept a planning application without any analysis on sewage and drainage, and without a social impact study? Does this mean residents do not matter anymore? This is a sham; it goes totally against the concept of holistic and sustainable planning.
“We have an authority that seems to work to facilitate things for developers and which does not question impact assessments. Such studies are not a rubber stamp facility. One should engage with these assessments.”
Without such studies, it was impossible for stakeholders such as the local council to engage with the developers and authorities, Dr Briguglio insisted.
Transport Malta, he added, was not even capable of running a bus lane, as it was often occupied by unauthorised vehicles.
Given this, he questioned whether the transport watchdog was capable of coming up with a holistic plan to ensure Sliema did not end up in “one big traffic jam”.
The Sliema local council is a registered objector to the Townsquare project. The council is adamant that Sliema’s present infrastructure cannot support more cars.
The project’s developers were supposed to present a green transport plan but this has yet to materialise.
“Apart from the environmental issue which is very important and is of utmost concern to me, there is also a question of governance. How can we have an authority which does not do its job?
“We are not asking the authority to do anything beyond its remit, we are basically asking the authority to do its job. If the authority is not capable of doing that, we have a serious governance problem.”
The development application for the Townsquare project was originally filed in 2005. Asked if the local council has engaged with the developer, Dr Briguglio said various meetings had been held over the years.
“Several months ago we asked the developer to hold a meeting with residents so that there can be dialogue on this issue. You cannot force the developers to do something they do not want to do.
“They would be able to explain their plans in the meeting and allow residents to raise their concerns. My gut feeling is that if an open meeting was not held and a social impact assessment was not carried out, the authority and developers know there are many angry and disappointed residents,” Dr Briguglio pointed out.
Transport Malta is not even capable of running a bus lane
He was non-committal when asked about the positive impact of such a project, saying an economic impact assessment should have been carried out in order to answer that question.
He made it clear that he was not against the concept of a free market, wherein entrepreneurs take risks and reap the rewards, but added this must be done in a structured and regulated manner.
“I am in favour of the free market but I am also in favour of government regulation. The government has a responsibility to ensure the market works in a fair and sustainable manner.
“High-rises all over the place without the necessary infrastructure and demand for them can lead to sustainability problems and market problems. Some real estate experts are worried that if Malta is flooded by high-rise projects this could lead to a crash in property prices.
“Just because someone wants to invest in something does not give them an automatic right to do so.
“In the case of high-rises, even though Townsquare is private property, that does not mean that the developer can do what they want. The Tigné policy and floor area policy serve as a facility for high-rises; it does not mean high-rises have to be there.”
Echoing a concern voiced by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, Dr Briguglio said that by relying solely on mega developments, the country risked putting all its eggs in one basket.
He pointed at the lack of progress made at Manoel Island by developer Midi, which is currently searching for a partner in order to go ahead with the €500 million development.
Manoel Island is a “mess” at the moment and should serve as a warning to other developers.
Dr Briguglio drove home the point that the Sliema local council was not opposing developments just for the sake of it.
“When the local council comments on planning applications, we are not trying to block development, we are trying to ensure that it is as sustainable and Sliema-friendly as possible.”
Though it was already too late for Sliema in certain aspects, the government was still in time to see that proper sustainable planning was placed ahead of the individual interests of big business.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Wi-Fi and computer use at Sliema Public Library




Apart from a wide selection of books, Sliema's public library also offers free wi-fi and computer use.

The Margaret Mortimer Sliema Public Library is in Blanche Huber Street Sliema (within School premises)


Italian courses at Sliema Local Council


Contact sliema.lc@gov.mt to apply

4KIDS Computer Courses


4KIDS is a NEW COURSE based on Computer Skills and Academic Subjects for the following ages: 5 to 6, 7 to 8 & 9 to 10. Applicants should be between the ages of 5 to 10 years (primary school children year 1-6). We do not recommend younger or elder students unless in special cases.The duration of the course is 10 hours spread over 5 weeks, once a week for 2 hours each lesson. At the end of the course a certificate will be given to all that have attended the least 4 lectures of the course. 4KIDS will be offered for FREE in the majority of the local councils around Malta and Gozo.
More information will be given to the applicants during the pre-course meeting. Give your children the opportunity to enjoy their summer while learning throughout. Various groups available to meet everyone's needs.
The course is FREE. A 10 euro fee will be charged for the IKIDS notes that will be given to all students during the pre-course meeting.
Please contact Sliema Local Council sliema.lc@gov.mt to apply

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Weak rock on Qui-si-Sana peninsula can be problematic for tall buildings - geologist

A protest in Qui-Si-Sana against a number of high-rise projects in the area. Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaA protest in Qui-Si-Sana against a number of high-rise projects in the area. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina
Ivan Martin
A geological study submitted as part of the Townsquare high-rise project did not flag a layer of “very weak rock” that could pose problems in supporting tall buildings, an experienced geologist has warned.
“When I say weak, I mean you can practically break the rock with your hands. It’s like chalk. This is a rock that can be problematic if tall buildings are built on it,” Peter Gatt said.
The environment planning statement compiled by environmental consultancy firm ADI as part of the application, says that the only rock types present on the Qui-Si-Sana peninsula were lower globigerina limestone, a strong rock that could support a tall structure – “in fact most of Malta’s towns are built on this rock” – and a layer of phosphate, present across most of the island.
Dr Gatt said that, besides the two layers indicated, the area included a significant amount of middle globigerina limestone, a soft rock. This was the second softest on the island, he pointed out.
You can practically break the rock with your hands. It’s like chalk
The future of the Townsquare project was meant to be decided at a Planning Authority Board hearing scheduled for today. However, the court yesterday upheld a request by residents to suspend any decision until new studies were conducted on a range of issues.
In 2005, Dr Gatt published a scientific paper on the geology of the Qui-Si-Sana area highlighting, among other things, the presence of this much weaker middle globigerina.
“Along the Qui-Si-Sana shore, there is a coastal outcrop where the middle globigerina is clearly visible on top of the phosphate level,” he said.

“What we see in these published test results is a strength of between three and five megapascal below three metres of depth, that is the strength of middle globigerina and not lower globigerina, which would come in at about 15 to 20 megapascal,” he said.
The environment planning statement refers to core samples extracted from the area and tested for their tensile strength. Dr Gatt said the results of these tests also “clearly” pointed to the presence of the weaker rock.
Dr Gatt questioned why no geological logs – graphic representations of the core samples taken – had been included in the report.
A scan of the coastal area featured in the report further confounded Dr Gatt, who insisted the middle globigerina was visible at outcrops of the rock face along the Qui-Si-Sana coast.
Architects who spoke to this newspaper warned that the presence of this rock could mean that the developers would have to take a number of precautionary measures, which would include a reassessment of the foundation structures to be laid and of the excavation works to be carried out.
Questions sent to the Environment and Resources Authority yesterday had not been replied to by the time of writing.

Sliema protest held against Townsquare proposal

Injunction stops PA meeting on Townsquare project - protest goes ahead



A Planning Authority meeting due to be held tomorrow to decide a planning application related to the Town Square Project in Sliema has been postponed after a court upheld a request by eNGO Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar for a prohibitory injunction.
The eNGO is insisting that studies regarding the project - which will include a 38-storey tower - should be made and published before the project is discussed and decided upon by the Planning Board.
Earlier, this week, the Planning Authority denied that it concealed any documents related to the project.
"All documents related to this planning application have, throughout the entire planning process, been made available to the public at the front desk of the Planning Authority. Given that this is a pre-2007 application not all documents are in digital format," the PA said.
PROTEST GOES AHEAD
A public protest against the project went ahead as planned at Qui si Sana Gardens, close to the project site, this evening. Dozens of people took part, carrying streamers and placards against the project, saying it would cause a deterioration of the quality of life. 
One of the speakers at the protest was FAA coordinator Astrid Vella, who said that when she spoke to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (about the Zonqor project), he showed he did not care much about social impact assessments as residents would get used to everything. She said she has witnesses to those comments.
Ms Vella said the country could not handle so many tall buildings as it did not have the infrastructure, or the culture, to accommodate them.
Sliema local councilor Michael Briguglio said it seemed as though developers were competing to see "who had the biggest skyscraper".
The Planning Authority, he said, should be impartial and run by experts. However, it had become clear this was not the case.

Independent MP Marlene Farrugia also addresses the crowd and urged citizens to continue being the "voice of reason".
The Graffitti Movement, which took part in the protest, said the tower being proposed at Qui-si-Sana as well as other high-rise developments being proposed all over the country would only benefit the rich and the elite.
"Gasan and the likes have no care whatsoever for the negative impact such developments will have on the majority of the people. The high-rise buildings proposed are a feeble attempt to appease the general population and try to delude us into thinking that they are doing this in favour of our environment, when really, they will be blocking natural light, putting pressure on infrastructure and increasing traffic amongst other things. Moreover, all these proposals are being put forward while 72,000 buildings lie empty,” the group said. 
The Nationalist Party in a statement said that more than three years into its term, the government has no vision that can guide developers and has policies that are vague, contradictory or completely missing.
"The government’s policy on high-rise building contradicts its own strategic plan for the environment and development (SPED) adopted last year, which states that while tall buildings may increase efficacy of land use and create open spaces, their impact on the Maltese landscape is becoming a matter of concern.
"But while the SPED raises doubts about high-rise buildings, the government’s floor to area ratio policy (FAR) allows them. Moreover, the long-awaited Local Plans have been delayed for more than a year.
"All this shows that the problem lies with a Government that, despite all its promises, has yet to lead in sustainable development," the PN said.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sliema sewage shocker: Ex-Drainage Director says that Tigne' skyscrapers can lead to major sewage problems

Tigné high-rise projects can lead to major sewage problems

Residents say Tigné already suffers from sewage blockages


Ivan Martin Times of Malta Wednesday, June 22, 2016 


Building a number of high-rise projects in a small area like Tigné could lead to major sewage problems if their impact is not adequately studied, according to the former director of the Drainage Department.
“Without a plan of the cumulative effects of such projects, you are shooting in the dark. On the one hand developers could get blamed for sewage problems which are not their fault. But on the other, they could be building six-star developments supported by primitive infrastructure. The result would not be good,” architect Philip Grech told the Times of Malta.
With a detailed understanding of the Sliema sewage network, Mr Grech said the greatest risk such a concentration of large developments could pose could be the creation of what is known as a point load – an excessive burden on a small section of the subterranean sewage network.
“This needs to be looked at in advance, before construction. There are mathematical models you can run based on the system and the flows expected. These could give an indication of what needs to be done,” Mr Grech said.
He was contacted yesterday after concerns were raised that the Water Services Corporation had not given its input on the impact a proposed 34-storey Townsquare tower could have on the Sliema sewage system. The corporation did not reply when asked earlier this week why no impact assessment was provided and Mr Grech said this had caught him by surprise.
“If such an assessment was not provided then it is worrying as the WSC really knows what the current system’s capacity is and if there are any problems that need addressing,” he said.
The Sliema local council and residents have meanwhile complained that the Tigné area was already suffering from sewage blockages and high-rises would likely overload the system.
Mr Grech said the last major overhaul of the Sliema sewers had been conducted back when he was responsible for the system in the early 1990s. At that time, the area was changing from one predominantly made up of two and three-storey buildings to five-floor apartment blocks. Projects earmarked for Tigné had also called for the laying of a new pipeline to handle the additional flow, he said.
Would this be enough to support the burden of all those flushes from high-rise buildings? Again, studies would give a clearer indication, Mr Grech said.
He pointed out that buildings were rarely at full occupancy, and so, while the tall buildings had the potential to add much more sewage to the system, this depended in part on the developers’ ability to attract buyers.
Drawing on his experience in the field, Mr Grech said the island’s sewage system was one of the most overlooked parts of the island’s infrastructure.
“The possible need for an upgrade does bear looking at. You could ignore the system and be fine, or you could end up with people driving to their multi­­-million euro apartment and being faced with overflows, blockages and the nasty sights and smells that come with that,” Mr Grech said.
Sliema residents will today be organising a protest at the Qui-si-Sana Gardens to voice their concerns of tall buildings being erected without adequate studies and plans.


Fort Cambridge hotel project not ‘validated’ 


The Environment Impact Statement for the Townsquare development had
not included the impact of a proposed Fort Cambridge hotel project because this had not been “validated”, a Planning Authority spokesman said.
Reacting to criticism that the Townsquare project was being assessed in isolation, the spokesman said that the authority’s regulations stipulated that only those projects that were approved for consideration could form part of studies.
The spokesman denied allegations by the Sliema local council that there would be a shortage of parking for the Townsquare project. He also defended a report conclusion that peak hour traffic on the Tigné Peninsula had decreased. This, he said, had been based on traffic counts carried out by appointed traffic consultants.
“During this week’s public meeting, the Planning Board which will include a representative of the Sliema local council will have all the facility and time needed to query the conclusions and recommendations made by both appointed consultants and the Planning Directorate prior to taking an informed decision,” the spokesman said.
More information:

Townsquare SkyScraper Report - Shocking statistics and missing data - Click here


Protest against the Skyscraper proposal - George Bonello Dupuis Gardens, Qui-si-Sana, Sliema, 6pm, Wednesday 22nd June 2016.- click here for more info

Planning Authority meeting to decide on the proposal - click here for more info and to reserve a place







Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Townsquare SkyScraper Report - Shocking statistics and missing data


These are some of the strange coincidences in the official report on the Townsquare Skyscraper Proposal, which will be decided upon by the Planning Authority this Thursday, 11am. 

1. Shortfall of 234 parking spaces




2. Massive traffic increases. An increase of 10,587 daily car trips along the Strand in Tigne', according to the EPS




3. Questions on drainage infrastructure: Water Services Corporation did not give its opinion on this. 




4. Disregard of Sliema residents: No Social Impact Assessment.




Protest against the Skyscraper proposal - George Bonello Dupuis Gardens, Qui-si-Sana, Sliema, 6pm, Wednesday 22nd June 2016.- click here for more info

Planning Authority meeting to decide on the proposal - click here for more info and to reserve a place







Monday, June 20, 2016

Townsquare: Sliema Local Council presents its position to Planning Authority

PA concealed documents related to Townsquare Tower: Sliema council

Times of Malta 20 June 2016

The Planning Authority concealed documents related the Townsquare Tower development by not uploading them online, Sliema local council has alleged. 
The proposed Townsquare project.The proposed Townsquare project.
In a statement reacting to a case officer report about the development, the local council said three documents referred to by the case officer had only been made available after the council requested them.
"This concealing of documents is highly suspicious and in breach of the Aarhus Convention," the council statement read.  
A fourth document dated May 2016 is still not available online despite "countless" requests, the council said. 
The Townsquare Tower development is intended to replace what used to be Sliema's Union Club. 
The council said that it appreciated the case officer's suggestion for a council member to sit on the board deciding the application. 
It however argued that despite the Floor Area Ratio Policy stipulating that tall building proposals had to take similar nearby developments into consideration, the Townsquare Tower Environment Planning Statement and its addenda did not "in any way" consider plans for a 40-storey Fort Cambridge hotel. 
The case officer's report also "failed to assess any of the traffic related issues", the local council said, arguing that the developer's studies were "totally unrealistic". One of those claims is that peak hour traffic to and from Tigne Peninsula has decreased over the past decade. 
Vehicle emissions were now deemed to have a "negligible" impact on residents, the local council said incredulously, and there was no mention of public transport provisions. Nor was there any mention of a Green Travel Plan, as required by the Floor Area Ratio Policy, it said. 
The case officer had also failed to comment on a shortfall of 234 car parking spots, the council said, and had similarly steered clear of looking into the impact the proposed project would have on drainage systems. 
Sliema Local Council's position on Townsquare project can be read here .

Living off the fat of public land

There can be good economic reasons for granting public land to developers. But is it justified when it is purely for private profit?


Photo: Steve Zammit Lupi

Xwejni Bay is a picturesque inlet just off Marsalforn where salt is still produced from the pens cut out in the rocks.
The idyllic setting provides a perfect getaway, but it could have been a different story had the Borg Olivier government of 1969 not denied a development grant to the Pisani brothers.
It was a time when the Borg Olivier administration was trying to diversify the economy and encourage a fledgling tourism industry by giving hoteliers favourable terms and public land on the cheap.
The model worked, and Malta gradually started seeing hotels going up, providing much needed employment in sectors other than the British services.
Fast forward three decades and that very same model based on generous terms and the use of public land continued to be used by subsequent administrations.
In the 1990s, the Fenech brothers pulled down the Hilton hotel and rebuilt it within the confines of a bigger project that included a yacht marina hewn into the rocky coast and hundreds of luxury apartments.
Controversy surrounded that project, later to be known as Portomaso. The entire area was leased by the State to the developers for Lm191,000 (€445,000) until 2114. It was eventually sold to the developers for Lm800,000 (€1.8 million) in 2006, which pales into insignificance when considering the going rate for the luxury apartments the developers were allowed to build.
But Portomaso is not the only private project to have benefited from the State’s generous terms. The Tigné and Manoel Island development by the Midi consortium, which did not include hotels, was another exercise involving public land handed to investors, almost exclusively for real estate purposes.
Roll forward to the present day and once again the government is adopting a similar strategy to shift the real estate market up a gear.
In St George’s Bay, Corinthia is discussing new terms for the concessions given to it by the State in the 1990s to develop five-star hotels: it now wants to be allowed to develop private residences alongside a six-star resort.
A stone’s throw away, the government is willing to give up the site comprising the Institute for Tourism Studies to the Seabank Group for the development of a hotel, hundreds of luxury apartments and commercial outlets.
Another luxury real estate project is planned for the public land at the derelict White Rocks complex in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq.
The public is subsidising big developers to build exclusive properties for the few who can afford them
It seems the economic model adopted in the 1960s is very much alive and kicking five decades later. But with a buzzing economy driven by private-sector investment and employment at an all-time high, is it still necessary to give up public land for private gain?
In 1997, Michael Briguglio was one of a handful of activists who went on a hunger strike to protest the Portomaso project.
The lasting legacy of that desperate action to save the environment was the Ombudsman’s recommendation to have parliamentary scrutiny each time public land is transferred for private, commercial purposes.
Environmental activists went on a hunger strike in January 1997 to protest the Portomaso project that saw the Hilton hotel being rebuilt along with hundreds of luxury apartments, a yacht marina and a business tower.Environmental activists went on a hunger strike in January 1997 to protest the Portomaso project that saw the Hilton hotel being rebuilt along with hundreds of luxury apartments, a yacht marina and a business tower.
This is why the land transfer at Żonqor Point in Marsascala and the Dock One buildings in Cospicua to the Sadeen Group for the creation of a higher education institute had to be brought before Parliament last year.
It is the same reason that any changes to Corinthia’s concession terms at St George’s Bay will have to be approved by Parliament, as will the land transfer of the ITS to the Seabank Group.
Today a sociology lecturer, Dr Briguglio argues that an economic model based on the cheap exploitation of land has “different and at times contradictory characteristics”.
This model can have a multiplier effect by creating jobs in different sectors and promoting relative stability, he says.
But there is also a deleterious effect from giving up public land for projects that largely result in residential units that are out of reach for ordinary citizens.
“The public, through its taxes, is basically subsidising big developers to buy land at cheap prices to build exclusive properties for the few who can afford them. Consequently, residents may be elbowed out of certain areas which become increasingly commercialised,” he says, quoting from an environmental planning study for the Tigné area in Sliema.
Dr Briguglio says that this model can, and increasingly does, create environmental precariousness and social inequality, resulting in a lack of public space for enjoyment by the community.
It is also a model that is causing increased strain on aspects of public infrastructure such as roads and water.
“When developers stop making profit, they simply abandon the sites or resort to even more greedy proposals. Manoel Island is a case in point, with rubbish and debris all over the place and closed access to the public,” Dr Briguglio says.
Manoel Island had to be developed as part of the Tigné project, but Midi wants to sell it off and has been waiting for the right investor to come along. While Fort Manoel has been restored, the rest of the island remains a shambles with no public access.
Smart City in Kalkara has suffered a similar fate, as most of the site is excavated and hidden behind hoarding, a far cry from the bustling IT village with hotels and luxury residences once promised.
Dr Briguglio’s concern does not stop with the use of public land as a giveaway. It is a concern linked to the emphasis being placed on the construction industry as a generator of economic prosperity.
“It is the type of model which can burst, as was the case in Spain and Ireland, with dramatic social and economic repercussions,” he says.
He asks how many more thousands of apartments the country can build, when so much vacant property exists.
It is a question that many have asked over the years. Finance Minister Edward Scicluna also warned recently about the rush by developers as they seemingly try to outdo each other with high towers and luxury apartments.
While some of these projects are on privately owned land, others require government concessions. Some are even hoping for fiscal benefits to moderate the exponential costs associated with high-rise.
In an interview with The Sunday Times of Malta, Seabank Group CEO Arthur Gauci insisted a hotel on its own on the ITS site would not be viable if the company were to pay commercial rates for the land. “The numbers just don’t add up.”
Mr Gauci is not the first to posit this argument. It falls squarely within the context of fiscal incentives used to attract foreign companies to Malta, the difference being that companies generate employment, while luxury apartments generate profit for the sellers. The Corinthia Group has argued that if Malta wants to amplify its profile as a top-end destination, it requires high-end development, which includes residences that may attract foreigners.
But for Sandro Chetcuti, president of the Malta Developers Association, the government should hold on to public land for a rainy day.
We cannot have an economy that depends on real estate
He says the real estate sector is passing through a revival which does not need extra stimulus from the government.
“Public land can be used to stimulate investment in tourism or education, but we have to be careful because too much use of cheap public land risks distorting the market,” Mr Chetcuti says.
He notes that the land in St George’s Bay where the Corinthia wants to build a six-star resort was given to hoteliers in the 1990s for the construction of two five-star hotels and one four-star resort.
“At the time the country lacked five-star investment, and it may have been justified to give up public land for the greater economic good. But if you want to refurbish and upgrade these hotels, does it make sense to reduce them to two hotels and shift the onus of the project to real estate?”
Mr Chetcuti says a real estate component may be justified to part-finance a project, but he fears that in some of the proposals being floated, the hotels are simply an excuse for residential development.
“This will be the start of the road to perdition, and it could be a high-risk model for the country because we cannot have an economy that depends on real estate,” he says.
His cautionary tone echoes that of Chamber of Architects president Chris Mintoff, who recently wrote about the Montebello syndrome. Mr Mintoff warned against a get-rich-quick mentality in the construction industry that shuns good sense and proper planning.
Mr Chetcuti appeals to developers “who are enthusiastic about their projects because of the feel-good factor now to consider things well”.
He points out that it is only recently that the industry “painstakingly” exited a situation of oversupply that dragged it down. It makes little sense to have more of the same or too many of the same, he says.
Project proponents are convinced that there is a market for what they are planning to offer. The Individual Investor Programme and other initiatives to attract wealthy foreigners to Malta have jolted the high-end property market.
According to the Central Bank of Malta’s annual report for 2015, business and consumer sentiment has continued to improve.
Sentiment has significantly improved and turned positive in the manufacturing, retail and construction industries.
These developments led to a four-percentage-point increase in 2015, ensuring the index remained above its long-term average of 100.
Economic projections show Malta registering healthy growth over the next two years.
The country is riding a wave, but how long it will last is anybody’s guess. The caution has been expressed; whether it will be heeded is another matter altogether.

Time machine: 1969

An extract from a supplement appearing in the Times of Malta in June 1968 to commemorate the opening of the Corinthia Palace Hotel in Attard.An extract from a supplement appearing in the Times of Malta in June 1968 to commemorate the opening of the Corinthia Palace Hotel in Attard.
The Pisani brothers of Corinthia fame wanted to develop a 690-room hotel in Żebbuġ, Gozo, and applied for a £400,000 grant from the government.
At the time, the Borg Olivier administration was bending over backwards to encourage investors to open up hotels, as the country sought to bolster a fledgling tourist industry.
According to a declassified Cabinet memo released last year, the request by the Pisani brothers was turned down, because they had already benefited from a grant to develop the Corinthia Palace in Attard.
The Pisani brothers had transformed a family restaurant just opposite San Anton Gardens into a 320-bed hotel and obtained a grant of £173,333 for the development. The generous terms also included a 10-year tax holiday and exemptions on customs duty on construction materials used for the Attard hotel.
This was just one example of how the administration at the time supported investment in tourism. Other projects at the time were also supported in this way as post-independence Malta sought to diversify its economy and move away from its reliance on the British services