The future of the Three Cities – Friends of Cottonera Forum

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The future of the Three Cities - Friends of Cottonera ForumResidents of the Three Cities welcome the long-awaited regeneration plans of Dock One. However they feel that this should not take place to the detriment of the historically significant area and without the consultation of residents and other interested groups and stakeholders of the area.

Recently, a number of residents living in Cospicua were awakened by the sound of trucks and machinery and observed, in amazement, as a line of well-established trees alongside Dock One were swiftly felled. Tree felling in a country like Malta is never a welcome sight and their removal in this location was particularly alarming since the trees acted as a crucial sound and pollution buffer between busy traffic and residential premises. The concerned residents, having failed to locate any relevant plans on the MEPA website regarding the felling of trees, contacted various sources appealing for information and finally received a copy of the project’s plans from the Local Council.

The relief provided by some of the information obtained, which technically should have been easily accessible public information, was short-lived when the residents learned that many aspects of the original Dock One Regeneration project had apparently been abandoned. These included community programmes for the local residents. Questions raised by all concerned were, firstly, why had these planned social programmes been discarded and secondly, why have the local communities not been consulted?

This failure on the part of the authorities to respect the specifications of the Aarhus Convention has brought obligatory involvement of residents in the development process to the fore again.Cospicua Dock, MaltaConsequently, the Friends of Cottonera Forum was established last week with the aim of advocating on behalf of local residents of Cospicua, Senglea, Vittoriosa and Kalkara with the support of local heritage NGOs, including the Three Cities Foundation, the International Cospicuans Foundation and the Cinema Heritage Group. The Forum intends to act as a monitoring and advocacy group for sensitive heritage preservation, as well as transparent, controlled and sympathetic development through better-informed residents and users of the area.

Thus the Forum hopes to facilitate clear and direct dialogue between the residents of the affected localities and heritage NGOs on the one hand and government bodies – including MEPA – on the other. Needless to say the Forum supports the Local Councils’ efforts in balancing preservation of the unique heritage of the localities with the need for sympathetic development.

The Friends of Cottonera Forum aims to ensure that information on current and future projects is made accessible to the public, allowing all interested individuals and organisations to monitor developments within their towns, an area of Malta that is immeasurable in its historic significance.

The first public meeting of the Friends of Cottonera Forum will take place on Friday 17th March 2011, at 6 pm, at The Birmula Heritage, Triq Santa Margerita, Cospicua. Anyone with a vested interest in the future of Cospicua, Senglea, Vittoriosa and Kalkara is invited to attend this inaugural meeting to make their voice heard. As seating will be limited, we suggest reserving your free seat by calling 99876005 or emailing cottonera.forum@gmail.com.

Top photograph shows Cospicua trees before and after, lower photograph shows Cospicua Dock.

Hbieb tal-Kottonera Forum / Friends of Cottonera Forum

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