MaltaToday previous editions

MALTATODAY 4 October 2020

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 8 of 47

JAMES DEBONO A Planning Authority case of- ficer is recommending the ap- proval of a new Chinese embassy over 19,000sq.m of Pembroke woodland, with a final decision expected to be taken by the PA board on 29 October. But the public is being denied the right to access key docu- ments such as the case officer's report, photomontages and plans, as the Chinese govern- ment has invoked a legal clause that prevents the publication of documents which can impinge on security. MaltaToday's request for these documents were denied by the Planning Authority, whose spokesperson said the Chinese Government had requested that given the nature of the building "its security needs to be safe- guarded". The PA said it is restricting ac- cess in accordance with Section 33 of the Development Planning Act, which exempts banks, air- ports and buildings related to na- tional security from publishing such plans and documents. In contrast, detailed plans and the case officer's report on the original plans for the United States embassy approved by the PA in 2013 are still available to the public. But the case officer's report for the original Chinese application, which dates back to 2006 and therefore predating the present information system, is not avail- able online. The only plans of the proposed Chinese embassy's elevations available to the public date back to November 2019, now super- seded by other plans. Only statutory bodies like the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage have seen the plans. Embassy plans The land along Suffolk street was earmarked for the construc- tion of an embassy in changes made to the local plan in 2012 under a PN administration. The embassy will also include 20 residential apartments for the families of staff working in the embassy, included in two five-storey blocks. The embassy itself will also include dormito- ries for eight persons working in logistics. But the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage has warned that the development "is evi- dently one of very high intensity and visibility", which will have an "inevitable impact on the spatial and visual context of the sur- rounding scheduled buildings". The scheduled buildings in- clude Australia Hall, which is just 36m away, a block of barracks lo- cated 15m away, and a cluster of military buildings including an officers' mess located 96m away. Although the proposed struc- ture is intended as an embassy, the Superintendence still called for a reduction in heights and intensity of the development to minimise visual interference with the vistas of the scheduled structures. But the embassy architects are insisting that height reduction will mean an increase of the building's footprint, which has been restricted to 18% of the en- tire site. "If the building heights had to be lowered, for the re- quired functions of the Embassy buildings, the building footprint would need to be increased... substantially reducing the pro- posed soft landscaping on the site, currently proposed at circa 39%." Architect Ivan A. Cachia said the design concept takes full consideration of the sloping ter- rain of the site. Neither the final plans of the development, nor the photomontages assessed by the SCH, are not available on the PA's information system. Protected woodland According to the embassy's architect, the consular and of- fice buildings will be built on the highest point of the site near Suffolk Road, having a height of two and three floors respectively. Residential buildings rising to 5 floors are proposed at the low- er part of the site, and will not exceed the height of the office buildings. The site is a protected affor- ested area of pines and Acacia species, recognised under the Trees and Woodlands Protec- tion Regulations. The local plan approved in 2006 had allocated the site for an em- bassy but also three-storey high maisonettes and flats on the con- dition that mature trees found in the area are safeguarded. The process to locate the Chi- nese embassy in Pembroke had started in January 2012 when amendments to the local plan were issued for public consul- tation. In 2014, parliament ap- proved a resolution through which the Chinese government was set to pay €7.88 million for the 11,000sq.m site. Australia Hall next in line The site is near Australia Hall, a historic property passed on to the Labour Party by the same La- bour administration in the 1970s as compensation for land the party owned in Marsa expropri- ated for the Malta Shipbuilding complex. Upon re-election in 2013, the Labour administration stopped a Lands Authority court action started under the previ- ous Nationalist administration, to take back Australia Hall in the hands of the State. The La- bour Party proceeded to sell the building to furniture manufac- turers Fino, which last year also presented development plans for the area next to Australia hall. The company is proposing four-storey "terraced develop- ment" in the area around the protected building. But they could also increase building heights over and above statuto- ry limits for sites over 4,000sq.m and surrounded by existing streets. If half the site is retained as an open space, this could re- sult in an eight-storey develop- ment. 9 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 4 OCTOBER 2020 NEWS Chinese invoke secrecy on Pembroke embassy plans PA allows legal ban on publication of Pembroke embassy plans due to security concerns on request of Chinese government Letter of Intention The Directors, Andrew Phillips & Ioana-Luminita Phillips of Axiom Recruitment Group Ltd., declare their intention for the company to register for an Employment Agency licence in accordance to article 23 of the Employment and Training Services Act, 1990 (Act XXVIII of 1990). The activities proposed to be carried out are the following: 1) Recruitment Consultancy 2) Interviewing, selection and placements of candidates in employment 3) Recruitment of persons from abroad to employment in Malta or in an EU member state 4) Recruitment of persons in Malta for employment in Malta or in an EU member state 5) Advertising of the filling of vacancies 6) Keeping a register of applicants for employment Official Registered Office Address. The Office Registered Address: Suite 7, Floor 2, Valletta Buildings, South Street, Valletta, VLT 1103 The office address of the premises at which the employment agency or employment business is to be carried out: Flat 5, 17 Ix-Xatt, Qui-Si-Sana, Sliema, SLM 3111 Company Registration Number: C94820

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of MaltaToday previous editions - MALTATODAY 4 October 2020