Organisations formally object to the DB Group plans for the ex-ITS site |  Moviment Graffitti Malta.
16/06/2020

Organisations formally object to the DB Group plans for the ex-ITS site

Several organisations have submitted a detailed objection to the Planning Authority (PA) in connection with the DB Group project on the ex-ITS site. A summarized version of the objection has been placed on an online form and can be submitted to the PA by the general public.


Despite the company’s aggressive public relations campaign falsely claiming that the project has significantly changed, a thorough review of the revised plans reveals that the project’s monstrosity remains virtually the same. If approved, the tower and the hotel would engulf surrounding localities and their residents under massive structures as well as further push Paceville towards residential areas. The project also remains as damaging to the surrounding natural environment as it was before the revised plans.


In their objection, the organisations highlight a number of planning policies being breached by the proposed plan for the ex-ITS site. The objectors state that the exaggerated massing, volume and height of the proposed development are out of context. The proposed hotel tower - 64m high - and the residential tower - 112.25m tall – by no means respect the topography and surrounding context. The shadowing cast by the superstructures will also have a deleterious effect upon the residences in the affected area.


Moreover, the objectors underline the detrimental impact on cultural heritage. The visual integrity of the Grade 2 Scheduled St George’s Barracks is highly endangered and no “Character Appraisal” of the context was carried out (in breach of Circular 3/20). Extensive and extremely risky rock-cutting will take place near the Grade 1 scheduled cave system of Ħarq Ħamiem, and within the 'Buffer/Constraint Zone' of the same cave system. There is no indication of whether the studies on its geological structure and vulnerability have been undertaken, and if so, on what data these studies were based on. It is also unclear what will happen to the Cold War bunker that was discovered through research carried out by the objectors. From the drawings provided, it is impossible to deduce to what extent the bunker is being retained and which elements will be lost.


A major concern relates to the excessive amount of traffic, noise and pollution the development will generate in the area. There are no updated Traffic Impact Assessments providing a holistic overview as to whether the current road infrastructure is sufficient to contain the increased traffic generated by the proposed project. The application does not include the infamous tunnel being touted by the DB Group as the solution to the traffic generated by the project. Moreover, a tunnel which is not funded by the developer is in breach of the Floor to Area Ratio policy; this policy requires applicants to contribute to the costs of measures implemented to accommodate the burdens and inconveniences generated by the development.


The objectors outline several other concerns, such as the breaches of Local Plan policies and a number of environmental considerations, including the excessive generation of inert waste and the lack of updated Environmental and Social Impact Assessments.


The objectors also disagree with these so-called “mitigating” measures proposed by the applicant and consider them to be merely another excuse for taking over more public land under the pretence of making amends. “Mitigation” measures include the decking of a rocky public beach designated as a Natura 2000 site and a surface car park for residents on a plot of land beyond the site conceded to the applicant.


The objectors are also requesting a physical hearing by the PA Board, since a virtual online hearing is no substitute for a physical hearing where the people can voice their opinion in line with their right to participate fully in the decision-making process.


Organisations

  1. Bicycle Advocacy Group
  2. BirdLife Malta
  3. Din l-Art Helwa
  4. Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar
  5. Friends of the Earth Malta 
  6. Moviment Graffitti
  7. Nature Trust Malta
  8. Sustainable Built Environment Malta
  9. The Archaeological Society of Malta
  10. Żminijietna – Voice of the Left
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Għaqdiet joġġezzjonaw formalment għall-pjan tad-DB Group għas-sit fejn qabel kien hemm l-ITS


Diversi għaqdiet issottomettew oġġezzjoni dettaljata lill-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar (PA) rigward il-proġett tad-DB Group fuq is-sit fejn qabel kien hemm l-ITS. Verżjoni mqassra tal-oġġezzjoni ġiet impoġġija fuq formola online u tista’ tintuża biex tiġi sottomessa lill-PA mill-pubbliku ġenerali.


Minkejja l-kampanja aggressiva ta’ reklamar, fejn il-kumpanija qed tisħaq li l-proġett ġie mibdul b’mod sinifikanti, jekk wieħed jifli sew il-pjanti riveduti, jinduna li l-mostrożità tal-proġett baqgħet prattikament l-istess. Jekk jiġi approvat, it-torri u l-lukanda se jordmu l-lokalitajiet tal-madwar u lir-residenti tagħhom taħt strutturi massiċċi kif ukoll se jkomplu jimbuttaw lil Paceville lejn inħawi residenzjali. Il-proġett se jibqa’ wkoll ta’ dannu għall-ambjent naturali tal-madwar daqs kemm kien qabel ma ġew riveduti l-pjanti.


Fl-oġġezzjoni tagħhom, l-għaqdiet jiġbdu l-attenzjoni għal numru ta’ policies tal-ippjanar li qed jiġu miksura bil-pjanti hekk kif proposti fuq is-sit tal-ex ITS. Huma jiddikjaraw li l-massività, il-volum u l-għoli esaġerati tal-iżvilupp propost huma sproporzjonati. It-torri tal-lukanda proposta – għoli 64m – u t-torri residenzjali, għoli 112.25m, bl-ebda mod ma jirrispettaw it-topografija u l-kuntest tal-madwar. Id-dell li se jitfgħu dawn l-istrutturi enormi se jkollhom ukoll effett negattiv ħafna fuq ir-residenzi fl-inħawi affetwati.


Barra minn hekk, l-għaqdiet jenfasizzaw l-impatt negattiv fuq il-wirt kulturali. L-integrità viżwali ta’ St George’s Barracks li huma skedati bħala Grad 2, hija mhedda sew u ma sar l-ebda “Character Appraisal” tal-kuntest (bi ksur ta’ Ċirculari 3/20). Tħaffir eċċessiv u riskjuż tal-blat se jsir biswit is-sistema tal-għerien ta’ Ħarq Ħamiem li hija skedata bħala Grad 1 u li taqa’ fil-'Buffer/Constraint Zone' tal-istess sistema ta’ għerien. M’hemm ebda indikazzjoni dwar jekk sarux studji fuq l-istruttura ġeoloġika u l-vulnerabilità tagħha, u jekk iva, fuq liema data dawn l-istudji kienu bbażati. Mhuwiex ċar ukoll x’ser jiġri mill-bunker ta’ żmien il-Gwerra Bierda li kien misjub waqt riċerka li saret minn dawk li qed joġġezzjonaw għall-proġett. Mill-pjanijiet provduti, huwa impossibbli tkun taf x’se jibqa’ mill-bunker u liema elementi se jintilfu.


Tħassib serju jikkonċerna l-ammont eċċissiv ta’ traffiku, storbju u tniġġis li se jiġġenera dan l-iżvilupp fl-akkwati. M’hemm ebda assessjar tal-impatt tat-traffiku riċenti li jipprovdi stampa sħiħa dwar jekk l-infrastruttura tat-toroq preżenti hijiex biżżejjed biex tiflaħ għaż-żieda fit-traffiku li se jiġġenera l-proġett propost. L-applikazzjoni ma tinkludix il-famuża mina li d-DB Group qed jippreżenta bħala s-soluzzjoni għat-traffiku ġġenerat bil-proġett. Apparti dan, mina li l-ispejjeż tagħha mhux se joħroġhom l-iżviluppatur tikser il-policy tal-Floor to Area Ratio; din il-policy tirrikjedi li l-applikant jikkontribwixxi għall-ispejjeż tal-miżuri li jittieħdu biex jiġu indirizzati l-piżijiet u l-inkonvenjent li jiġġenera l-iżvilupp.


L-għaqdiet jelenkaw diversi punti oħrajn ta’ tħassib, bħall-ksur fil-policies tal-Pjan Lokali kif ukoll numru ta’ konsiderazzjonijiet ambjentali, li jinkludu l-ġenerazzjoni eċċessiva ta’ skart tal-kostruzzjoni u n-nuqqas ta’ assessjar riċenti tal-impatt ambjentali u soċjali. L-oġġezzjonaturi ma jaqblux ukoll mal-miżuri hekk imsejħa ta’ mitigazzjoni li huma proposti mill-applikant u jikkunsidrawhom bħala sempliċiment skuża ohra biex tittieħed iktar art pubblika biex taparsi jpatti għad-dannu li se jikkawża. Dawn il-miżuri jinkludu d-decking fuq il-blat ta’ bajja pubblika li hija sit ta’ Natura 2000 kif ukoll sit ta’ parkeġġ pubbliku fuq biċċa art li lanqas biss tagħmel parti mis-sit mogħti lill-applikant.


L-għaqdiet qegħdin jitolbu wkoll seduta mhux virtwali mill-Bord tal-PA, minħabba li seduta online ma tistax tissostitwixxi seduta fiżika fejn dawk preżenti jkunu jistgħu isemmgħu leħinhom kif għandhom id-dritt li jagħmlu biex jipparteċipaw b’mod sħiħ fil-proċess tat-teħid tad-deċiżjonijiet.


Għaqdiet

  1. Bicycle Advocacy Group
  2. BirdLife Malta
  3. Din l-Art Helwa
  4. Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar
  5. Friends of the Earth Malta 
  6. Moviment Graffitti
  7. Nature Trust Malta
  8. Sustainable Built Environment Malta
  9. The Archaeological Society of Malta
  10. Żminijietna – Voice of the Left