Thursday, June 23, 2016

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.
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.

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