Maltatoday, 24th August 2008, by James Debono

The PN-led Sliema Council will be appealing against the Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s decision to grant a permit for the 20-storey Fort Cambridge development,
On Wednesday the Sliema Council unanimously approved a motion presented by Green councillor Michael Briguglio urging the local council to appeal against the decision.
The Sliema Local Council will be appealing against MEPA’s decision because it violates the development brief.
An appeal in front of the Planning Appeals Board does not preclude a developer from commencing works before the board takes a decision. But if the Appeals Board turns down the permit, the developer will have to restore the site to its original state.
The development brief states black on white that the development at Fort Cambridge should not exceed 16 storeys, yet MEPA is now permitting development of 20 storeys.
The council contends that MEPA carried out an incomplete EIA, as it did not include a Social Impact Assessment.
MEPA claimed that application was approved after he applicant amended the plans and brought the development in accordance with the development brief to the height limitations of 16 floors and a building volume of 64,000 m2.
Plans submitted by the developers show that although 20 storeys high, the development will have the same height as a 16 storey building.
Yet the development brief does not make a reference to building heights and simply states that the maximum height limitation should be of 16 floors.
The project was approved in a stormy meeting last July, marred by queries by this newspaper on a press release found before the meeting which pre-announced the decision.
The MEPA chairman later apologised for this mistake while insisting that another press release pre-announcing a refusal had also been prepared before the meeting.