Objection to New Waterpolo Pitch and Clubhouse in Marsascala |  Moviment Graffitti Malta.

Objection to New Waterpolo Pitch and Clubhouse in Marsascala

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I would like to register my interest to make representations and to be present during any hearings and to be informed of all future developments in this case.

The proposal of the new waterpolo pitch and clubhouse under planning application PA/0987/17 covers an approximate footprint area of 8,125 sqm. I am objecting to this development for the following reasons:

  • The intention of the Policy SMSE 04 - Public Urban Open Spaces, Squares and Green Areas is to encourage the provision of additional public urban open spaces. The proposed development in question takes a contrary approach, as it seeks to compromise the public enjoyment of the natural seashore, which is one of the most popular in Malta both with the locals and foreigners not only during the summer period but all year round. Thus, this development clearly runs counter to Policy SMSE 04.
  • The proposal also runs counter to Coastal Objective 1.1a of the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED) 2015, given that the proposal in question does not enhance public use of bathing areas but indeed seeks to discourage residents and visitors from making use of the natural sea environment, given that the proposed area would be occupied with the building itself, a concreted floor slab and activities involved with this development. One must also mention references in SPED 2015 Chapter 2, Sections 2.51/2.52 whereby it is clearly mentioned that coastal zones have been gradually taken up by coastal uses (such as the proposed development) to the detriment of the natural and cultural resources. Reference is also made to the engineering works that have led to an increase in the artificialisation of the coastline whilst fishing villages have been almost completely transformed and displaced by recreational facilities. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that these points are thoroughly considered to avoid further eradication of our remaining coastal villages such as Marsascala.   
  • It is also important to note that the location of this development is very close to a predominantly residential area. Proposal lacks un/loading areas which cannot be accommodated along the street as this will interfere with the vehicular movement. Moreover, the transporting and the un/loading activities, that would inevitable take place, will give rise to loud noises with the detriment of the residents in the area. In addition, the actual activity of the waterpolo sports itself generates loud noises. This development would also increase the traffic generation in the area. This part of Marsascala has already reached its limit with respect to parking issues. There is also no possibility of spillage in other areas due to an already saturation point of parking problems. Therefore, it is clear that this development will constitute a nuisance to the surrounding residential area and should not be considered positively. The Marsascala Local Council has also stated the need for a holistic plan for the area due to the sheer amount of development and proposals in the area, with the locality already struggling to handle the current demand on its infrastructure;
  • The roof of this development shall be an extension to the existing promenade creating a larger open space which could easily be used to increase the commercial activity for further development such as kiosks, and therefore creating a possible precedent to development on this side of the bay which would result as a detriment to the value of the properties of existing residences. Moreover, although this development is only showing an access space built on promenade level, given that this area is practically the highest point above sea level along the promenade, it would inevitably result in an eyesore to Marasascala bay. This is unacceptable and one cannot close an eye to such a negative visual impact it would create, one that would ruin the image of this village forever. 
  • Another issue emanating from this proposed development is the impact it would have on the mooring of boats. Although TM is stating that none of these moorings are regularised, individuals replied to Malta Today article, that on the contrary, TM had asked boat owners to regularise/register their moorings. Once registered, these moorings were marked by a numbered buoy which TM itself gave to boat owners when registration was approved. Furthermore, the registration of the moorings included an agreement to secure the boats fore and aft, meaning TM asked boat owners to add another concrete mooring block to each boat so that they do not turn with the wind. There was also an increase in the mooring fee which boat owners pay to TM. Hence the statement made regarding the fact that none of these moorings are regularised, as shown in the article of Malta Today is very questionable.
  • According to a biological survey carried out by Julian Evans and Joseph Borg, the EU- protected Posidonia meadows, found just 20-50 metres away from shore, include a part earmarked for this development. The report warns that the construction of the waterpolo pitch and clubhouse will obliterate the habitats and species they support including a small area with the priority habitat Posidonia beds. Moreover, the bivalve Pinna nobilis, also a protected species found close to the development, may not survive. This matter should not be taken lightly and any possible negative effect on these species should not even be considered let alone be allowed. 

  • In addition, the proposed development lies within a bay that has a connection with a Natura 2000 site: Il-Maghluq. Il-Maghluq is under Natura 2000 Management Plan (SAP), and according to a report issued by ERA, natural habitats and species occurring in the area can be damaged. Bays are also important for fish particularly the young fish;
  • The Marsascala Local Council has stated that land reclamation beyond Marsascala shoreline would be detrimental to the community, citing such reasons as 'negative impact on the environment, the toll on local infrastructure, the inconvenience caused to residents, the negative impact on the social aspect of many families who were raised in the area; and the debilitation of a beautiful, natural, and open environment';
  • SMMS 03 of the South Malta Local Plan (2006) refers to the site currently occupied by the ex-national waterpolo pitch as one designated for the provision of sports facilities as per Marsascala Policy Map MS1. This already committed area is substantial and a proper proposal for an upgrading of this site would benefit the whole community of Marsascala and the surrounding areas. The waterpolo facilities can generously be accommodated within such a sports complex in addition with public urban open spaces and proper parking provisions. This site would constitute a win-win situation to the sports community as well as the natural heritage of this village and the surrounding areas. It is therefore clear that this site would be a more adequate zone where to propose such a development as this would mean leaving green open spaces accessible to the general public, marine life thriving and providing the waterpolo sports club with an appropriate complex, without creating a further development burden on this village and its natural habitat.