New planning policy proposed for Strait Street and Old Civil Abattoir in Valletta
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To facilitate and encourage the rehabilitation and revitalisation of Strait Street and the Old Civil Abattoir (Biccerija) in Valletta, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) in collaboration with the Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure have published, for public consultation, a new policy for these areas to be transformed into a creativity and multi-cultural hub both through new activities and physical interventions.
This proposed policy (GV31), which takes into account Government’s Vision for Valletta 2018, seeks to promote a diverse range of uses and activities connected to, or in support of, the promotion, teaching and practice of culture and local crafts.
MEPA said that high intensity activities such as bars and music venues will be directed towards the core of the hub between St. Lucy Street and St. Christopher Street whereas lower intensity uses such as teaching studios, independent retail outlets, exhibition spaces and tourism accommodation will be directed to the upper floors of the core area or towards the periphery of the hub.
Policy GV31 will endorse interventions on the physical fabric of the street and its buildings which enhance their conservation value, where specific attention will be given to the restoration and integration in the design schemes of particularly important signs or mural inscriptions/ painted adverts which evoke memory links with the history of the street, MEPA said.
The policy which is accompanied by an appendix document entitled “Design Guidelines for street furniture on Strait Street” promotes the full pedestrianisation of the core of the hub area with the stepped section suitable for the introduction of greenery.
The design guidance appendix seeks to encourage high quality outdoor seating and standing areas for restaurants and cafes to enhance the safety, amenity and ambiance of Strait Street, while also ensure the safe and reasonable movement of pedestrians and vehicular traffic.
Strait Street, as its name suggests, is one of the narrowest streets of Valletta barely reaching 4m in width for most of its 660m length and runs along the longer side of the grid of Valletta (north to south), parallel to Republic Street. Due to various socio-economic factors and historic events, the area fell in decline and most of the floor space within properties fronting on Strait Street is now vacant.
The Old Abattoir is one of Valletta’s earliest buildings, but has undergone many changes since its first use as an abattoir in 1636. During the early 18th century, the building was used as soldier’s barracks and following that, light industrial uses were introduced. The Old Abattoir is within an area experiencing a dichotomy between the slow rehabilitation of the housing stock within an environment of sundry commercial and light industrial units.
It is this socio-economic mix that makes the building ideal for a ‘hub’ of activity bridging commercial, industrial and residential uses, MEPA said.
Last month, the Authority had published the proposed objectives which were to guide the formulation of this proposed policy framework. The Authority is publishing the submissions it had received from the public and other stakeholders, related to the proposed policy objectives.
The draft policy may be viewed from the Authority’s website www.mepa.org.mt/public-consultation.
Individuals and organisations are being invited to send their submissions pertaining to this draft policy in writing to:
The Chief Executive Officer
(2014 Revisions to the Grand Harbour Local Plan)
Malta Environment and Planning Authority
St. Francis Ravelin, Floriana CMR 01
or through email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions should reach the Authority by Friday, the 23rd of January 2015.