Press Release – 11 October 2013

The application to build high-rise apartments on the site of the former MistraVillage in St Paul’s Bay, is scheduled to be decided by the MEPA Board on 31st October 2013.  Din l-Art Helwa questions why this application is being decided now, when the formulation of a new policy to regulate high-rise buildings has just been launched.

The objectives of the new ‘Floor Area Ratio Policy’ were published by MEPA for consultation only this September.  Mepa’s own specific objectives stated that high-rise buildings should not be constructed on ridges. Yet the site of this application is on a high ridge which is of great panoramic value.

The timing of the board hearing for the decision on this development calls the credibility of the proposed policy into serious question right from the start.  Once the formulation of a new high-rise policy is now underway, says Din l-Art Helwa, it is expected that no decision on high-rise buildings should be taken before the policy is finalised and its objectives respected.

The ridge at Mistra is one of Malta’s most sensitive and scenic viewpoints, and any development is visible across the island from Mellieha and St Paul’s Bay.   Dr Michael Farrugia,  Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Planning has just stated at Thursday’s Mepa conference that he wished he could turn the clock back and get rid of disaster zones.  This is  one such golden opportunity, says Din l-Art Helwa.  Mepa’s imminent policy for high rise will itself not permit towering blocks to be built on ridges.  If Mistra’s development is allowed to go through, Mepa’s  policy will be aborted even before it is concluded.

Din l-Art Helwa asks whether the left hand within the Planning Authority does not know what the right hand is doing, or whether this an attempt to slip through a permit for high-rise development just before the new policy regulating such development is finalised.