Changes need to be made before the entire country is overrun with ugly developments

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Before, during and after the elections we kept hearing the words from Lawrence Gonzi ‘Mepa reform’. The recent court case in Gozo concerning the charmed application life of architect Joe Bondin proves once and for all if proof were indeed needed that such reform has been a long time coming.

Who in their right mind can see it as ethical to have architects presenting their own planning applications before the very boards they sit on? As pointed out by Astrid Vella of the environment lobby Flimkien g?al Ambjent A?jar (FAA), even if they are not directly involved in their own applications they still have the ability to network with the people involved in the decision-making process. Such privileges are not available to ordinary members of the public or indeed architects not involved with Development Control Commissions.

But then this is Mepa we are talking about here. The same Mepa who have just given the go-ahead to the Fort Cambridge mega-development. Of course everything was above board, out in the open and transparent as promised by Dr. Gonzi, well Maltese style anyway. Mepa in true Maltese style had gone to the trouble of preparing a press statement announcing the approval of the development before the meeting had even taken place!

Hopefully the new Mepa Chairman and the man in overall charge of Mepa, Lawrence Gonzi, will give the situation as it stands presently very close scrutiny. Changes need to be made and made soon before the entire country is overrun with ugly developments. With Mepa in a transition period between the old and new regulations and Chairmen it is clear that no new developments should be considered. This is especially true of mega-projects; pushing them through at this time is simply indicating that someone high up wants them to benefit from the present lax regulations. There is also a strong feeling that the very dubious-looking past applications should be investigated and ruled upon.

One only has to look at the case of 94-year-old Yolanda Angileri who feared her house could collapse after a huge apartment block above her was pulled down for redevelopment while she was still living there last October. That Joe Bondin was the architect in charge of this project says a lot about how much he cares about the life of the ordinary Maltese citizen, and still less about his professional ethics. And whilst we’re on the subject, what has the Maltese Chamber of Architects done about this and similar cases? Their silence is deafening!

Well done to Flimkien g?al Ambjent A?jar (FAA) in general and Astrid Vella in particular for the obvious hard work they put into gathering information in this case. It’s good to know that in these days of cut-throat greed there are still people who put their country first.

James A. Tyrrell,
5 Lower Cairncastle Road,
County Antrim,
N. Ireland BT40 1PG

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