The Ministry for Gozo, working with architects and through a consultation process launched today, is considering an alternative site on which to build the new Gozo Court.
The Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana explained that this has been deemed necessary following detailed geological studies carried out on the former proposed site before work had started, had confirmed that a project of that proportion could not have been undertaken.
“A preferred site has now been identified between Victoria and Xewkija, near the new information hub and the RS2 company,” the Minister said. This site is easily accessible and part of an area of regeneration and is compatible with the Court’s project, she added.
Dr Caruana explained that the original site was identified more than fifteen years ago. The initial survey was done on the spot in 2001, when the first identified structural weaknesses were noted.. She added that the previous administration were still inclined to go ahead with the site and applied for permits in 2008 which eventually were approved in 2016.
Architect Mario Cordina of the Projects and Development Directorate within the Ministry for Gozo, explained that the site on which it was originally proposed to construct the new Court and underground parking, currently serves as a public parking area.
“This building would have been over five storeys and therefore require digging deep down to build strong foundations. A geological study carried out in 2016, confirmed that the fault found in the 2001 survey would have been located just below the area where the court would have been built. The architects and other experts established that the fault in the rock would pose a real danger to the building,” he said.
The Minister for Gozo, in the search for a new site, requested that it must be central and adequate for this purpose by being safe and offer enough space to locate the court and parking spaces.
“The court must also be fully accessible, offering ancillary facilities in line with European directives and standards applicable to similar buildings, and must be constructed using modern methods to reduce environmental impact,” she said.
Dr Caruana said that by relocating the project, it is estimated that the cost will be reduced from €14 million to €5.5 million.
Minister Caruana presented the proposed artistic designs for the new Gozo Court building which will be up for consultation in the coming period. The idea is that the Court has five courtrooms, and a carpark will be built underground in an adjacent square for 120 vehicles, and not directly under the Court, because of the security risk.
Dr Caruana concluded by saying that the Ministry is committed to carrying out this project as a holistic change not only for the Gozo legal profession but also for all citizens.
Top photograph:MGOZ/Terry Camilleri