DLH Press Release 18 May 2009

Mistra Village development shoots back up to 16 storeys!

In 2008 MEPA had approved the outline application PA 05538/04 for a massive 11-storey development on Mistra ridge in Xemxija, which would dominate the northern coastal skyline. The development proposed 868 new residential units and was approved without a proper assessment of the visual impact of the project or an adequate photomontage, and not in conformity with the Local Plan. Din l-Art Helwa had expressed its strong disagreement with this decision.

Mepa has now received an application for the full development permit PA 06236/08 for this site, wherein the number of storeys has been further increased from 11 storeys to 16 storeys, as was originally proposed by the developers. The Local Plan NWSP 25 states that, with the application of the Floor Area Ratio (FAR), only a maximum of 8 floors can be allowed on this site, or ‘slight departures’ from this height.

11 floors as was proposed in the outline application could not be considered as a ‘slight departure’ from 8 floors, let alone a maximum of 16 floors as is now proposed for the full development permit. 16 storeys would be double the allowed limit, and can in no way be considered a ‘slight departure’ from this limit.

Din l-Art Helwa has repeatedly stated that no permits for tall buildings should be granted until a national policy for tall buildings in Malta has been drawn up. The Prime Minister has recently stated that the high rise policy is being revised, and absolutely no permits for high rise buildings should be considered until this process has been completed, together with the necessary public consultation.

The project site lies on a high ridge (Bajada ridge) in the more rural northern part of Malta, and is visible as one heads to the northern tip of the island and to Gozo. The adverse visual impact of this project is of national importance, as was also stated in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for this project.

Din l-Art Helwa states that MEPA’s own FAR policy clearly defines tall buildings as not acceptable on ridge sites, and specifically lists Mistra ridge as an example of an unacceptable location, the NGO has asked that careful and urgent consideration be given to this new application.