Malta Independent, 5th June 2008
Ta’ Masrija Action Group yesterday expressed concern at the decision by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority to grant an outline development permit which allows the use of the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) principle on a high ridge such as Xemxija Hill.The group said such a development will create traffic flow issues on an already congested road, and create a dangerous precedent relating to the application of FAR on high ridges.

Ta’ Masrija residents have objected with the authority about a similar project which applies FAR on the ridge overlooking the Natura 2000 Mizieb valley, one of the highest points in the country.

The FAR principle allows for the creation of monolithic type structures which can have a negative visual impact and decrease the quality of life of the neighbourhood due to the dramatic increase in population density of the area. This also results in traffic and parking congestion, various forms of pollution and possibly an overload of the services infrastructure of the neighbourhood.

The group said the authority is justifying the application of the FAR principle on the basis that such developments provide for public open spaces for the enjoyment of the community. This however seems to be contradicting its own draft policy that states explicitly that FAR should not be applied on high ridges.

The group hoped that Mepa, under the direction of its new executive chairman, will take advice from its own Planning Directorate which has already given a negative opinion on the Ta’ Masrija (Mellieha) project.