San Gwann development project is unstainable – FAA
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This Thursday MEPA will be deciding the application to build a massive 5-storey project of 62 flats and 105 car spaces at the busy junction between Sliema Road and B’Kara Road in San Gwann. Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar said in a statement today that this “will destroy one of the last areas that retain the character of the old village of San Gwann.”
FAA pointed out that this junction is jammed for most of the day due to four schools in the vicinity, traffic to Mater Dei Hospital and the Industrial Estate.
TThe NGO said that Transport Malta had commented “The junction fails under all scenarios … queue lengths in all cases are considerably high, particularly with the existing layout plus development” and finally: “Transport Malta still cannot accept additional development in the area, particularly as there is no obvious design solution available.” Yet following communication with the developer and a report produced by the developer, the former chairman of Transport Malta intervened to reverse TM’s unequivocal refusal, FAA said.
Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar said it is concerned that this report does not address the issue of Zbibu Lane, a narrow dead-end lane which cannot cope with the additional traffic to be generated by this 62-apartment complex.
“Allowing this complex to be built on the very turning circle that permits cars to exit this street would be highly irresponsible, given that a professional ambulance driver has testified that this would pose a danger to residents when ambulances and fire engines would not be able to reach and turn round in the lane.”
FAA also said that “the handling of the heritage issue is questionable; after MEPA’s Directorate had recommended that the 300 year-old farmhouse must be retained, it then recommended shifting it 50m west and finally that it could be demolished as it jars with the new development. Yet an old farmhouse of the same period will flank the development on the other side!”
“In addition to some fine examples of cart ruts as well as a wartime shelter, the site has two large wells, full of fresh water, but instead of creating a heritage park full of trees fed by the wells, these wells will be destroyed with no knowledge of the source of the water or its impact on the proposed development.
“So while Government builds a huge reservoir nearby and gives grants for domestic wells, existing reservoirs will be destroyed,” FAA said.
The NGO stated that “while the Minister of Environment is insisting on the importance of trees and clean air, the MEPA Major Projects Unit is determined to inexplicably approve this five-storey project in an area of 2/3-storey houses that will be deprived of light and air.
“Instead of providing an objective assessment of the case, the Case Officer strongly favoured the development, with no reference to the pollution that an additional 100 cars in this street will create. No mention was made of the increased traffic jam delay for emergency ambulances that use this route to reach Mater Dei hospital.”
FAA said that it “appreciates the MEPA Board’s balanced appraisal, ordering further investigations and commenting on the poor aesthetics of this building and we hope that in examining the new design proposal the Board will consider its overall effect on the streetscape. For decades the ‘uglification’ of Malta has been lamented.”
“Are we to permit yet more ugly development to continue to destroy our old areas? Over-development has social, environmental and economic costs, in increasing densities, stifling communities, adding to the problem of asthma, cancer and heart disease, undermining tourism, increasing flooding, over-extending services of water, electricity, drains and roads paid by the taxpayer and weakening our banking stability. With 72,000 empty properties already weighing on us, is this what we want for our country?” FAA asked
Photo – FAA: The ancient dry stone wall, archaeology site B’kara Road and old farmhouses on which have been inaccurately described as ‘dilapidated.’