“Relocation of open market is another piecemeal decision”

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"Relocation of open market is another piecemeal decision"Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar in a statement today said that the re-ocation of the Valletta open market “is yet another piecemeal decision which adds to Valletta’s intrinsic problem – the lack of holistic urban management of our capital.”

“The choice of Ordinance Street is far from ideal, but nor is the Merchants’ Street site, right behind the Magisterial Palace, with hawkers hanging their wares directly on the Palace walls.”

“Is a uniform design for the stalls planned, plus inclusion of local arts and crafts which would upgrade the market and widen its appeal?” FAA asked.

The hawkers’ representative’s statement that some of the stalls will have to be located between the new Parliament building and the old Opera House, indicates the worst possible planning.!

FAA said that “Valletta’s problems extend far beyond the market: since the relaxation of change of use regulations, Valletta real estate has been targeted for offices or foreign buyers. While it is positive that foreigners are restoring heritage properties, this is pushing them beyond the price-bracket of Maltese families.

“Since many foreign-owned homes are only used for a few weeks a year, in the evening parts of Valletta are becoming more of a ghost town than ever since its population has now dwindled alarmingly.”Additional floors mar the historic streetscape of St George's Square - FAAThe NGO pointed out, “as emphasised in the Valletta ICOMOS conference, the success of a city depends on a healthy social mix. Valletta needs a thriving population and a balance of both residents and commercial outlets. The many speculative MEPA applications for the construction of extra floors on Valletta properties violate MEPA policies which give Valletta the highest level of protection as an Area of High Landscape Value.

“Ignoring these policies, the MEPA EPC Boards have repeatedly permited the construction of extra floors without considering their negative impact on narrow streets where extra floors block residents’ natural light and air. These extra floors also ruin heritage streetscapes such as St George’s Square, prime heritage buildings such as the Auberges and Valletta’s supposedly protected skyline.”

“Since the introduction of the CVA, traffic has increased alarmingly, as has pollution. The demolition of the road across City Gate has directed further heavy traffic into the residential inner core of Valletta,” FAA said.

“Valletta’s is not being given its historic and cultural importance as a World Heritage Site, with MEPA recently permitting the setting up of a fishmonger in the original Carmelite convent, one block away from the Manoel Theatre and St Paul’s Cathedral. This decision is deplorable, especially given the vacant shops at the food market just three blocks away.”

FAA continued, “the hasty decision to move the ‘monti’ market to Ordinance Street shows our politicians’ refusal to treat Valletta in a considered, holistic manner. Upper Valletta continues to be crammed with commercial and legislative uses cheek by jowl, while lower Valletta is abandoned and crumbling. The Draft Valletta Management Plan, which took years to prepare, was never ratified by our politicians, still less followed.”

“The management of Valletta needs to be coherent, consistent and co-ordinated. Instead, the lack of planning, lack of studies and of organisation to meet residents’ needs is fuelling the exodus from Valletta. Malta already has one Silent City. Valletta must be kept alive.,” FAA concluded.

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