2nd August 2013
Din l-Art Helwa has submitted an initial set of comments to Mepa, as part of the ongoing revision of the local plans.
Din l-Art Helwa believes that the effect of development on the environment and our quality of life is of major concern, and emphasises that an overall Strategic plan that addresses this concern should be finalised by the government before revising the details of the individual local plans.
The strengths and weaknesses of the existing local plans should then be identified in relation to the Strategy and presented to the public, including the capacity of urban areas, traffic flows, vacant housing stock and visual amenity.
In its comments, Din l-Art Helwa notes that the existing development zones and building heights should not be increased, and that more green and pedestrian spaces should be created within urban areas. Major land reclamation projects should only be considered for reasons of national strategic importance.
The local plans should promote rainwater harvesting, the regeneration of historic areas and buildings, pleasant and harmonious streetscapes, quality in the design of buildings, and landscaping. The local plans should prevent the loss and fragmentation of agricultural land, and no further residential development should be permitted outside the development zones, including for agri-tourism. Buffer zones for historic buildings trapped in urban development should be included in the local plans, as well as between historic areas and the rest of the urban development.
Din l-Art Helwa also emphasises that all measures and policies included in the National Environment Policy (NEP) of 2012 should be taken into consideration in the revision of the Local Plans, as it provides direction for all sectors that affect the environment. The NEP states that spatial planning should ensure that land is used efficiently without the need to extend the development boundaries.
Among many other valid measures, the NEP promotes the use of spatial planning to protect public open spaces, coastal areas, agricultural land, and gardens. It encourages town centre management and the integrated improvement of degraded areas, as well as safe and healthy rural areas for informal recreation that respect landscape character. The NEP promotes alternative modes of travel, and notes that traffic in areas prone to the ‘street canyon’ effect should be reduced. The road network should be designed to take traffic out of town centres.
Din l-Art Helwa requests that, in line with previous practice, all organisations and persons making submissions for revisions to the local plans should be identified to ensure transparency.
The full document with Din l-Art Helwa’s comments can be viewed on https://dinlarthelwa.org/uncategorized/dlh-comments-revision-of-local-plans-2013/