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MALTATODAY 5 December 2021

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6 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 5 DECEMBER 2021 NEWS JAMES DEBONO A social impact assessment has confirmed widespread opposi- tion in Naxxar to the erection of two towers, one of 10 storeys and another of eight, on the site of the former trade fair's car park. 63% of Naxxar residents par- ticipating in an online survey included in a social impact as- sessment on the Naxxar towers, said they did not like having a medium-rise in their locality, compared to just 25% who liked this component of this project. 65% also disapproved or some- what disapproved of "the overall concept of having a multi-use medium-rise building" in their locality. But these results were not even reproduced in the Plan- ning Authority's case officer report, which recommended approval of the project, and in- stead only referred to the social impact assessment as one which outlines "both positive and neg- ative aspects and impacts on the Naxxar community." It also referred to the positive reaction to the changes made over a previous application, blithely noting that respondents welcomed the removal of a su- permarket and offices, and "the changes in the aesthetics of the elevations". The two-tower project of 136 apartments, is now slated for approval by the PA's case of- ficer. The Planning Board will discuss the project on 9 Decem- ber. Respondents in the survey were also asked they prefer the current proposal "to a different four floors and a receded level (4+1) development covering the entire site." The question was in line with the argument made by the pro- ject's developer that he is al- ready entitled by a 2018 zoning application to cover the entire site with five-storey blocks and a high-rise development. But the survey indicates that most residents disagree with both proposals. While 32% preferred the cur- rent design of the project to covering the entire site with low-rise blocks, 16% preferred a five-storey development while "a high majority of 49% stat- ed that they prefer none of the projects". The survey also shows that 53% disapprove of the increase in commercial entities, com- pared to 30% who approved this aspect of the project. 59% disapproved or somewhat dis- approved. But 72% welcomed the pro- posed open public space and 58% approved the creation of childcare centre. 58% also ap- proved the proposed parking facilities included in the devel- opment. Still, 54% expressed concern with the impact of the project on property prices as a result of the proposed high-end apart- ments. The authors of the survey con- sidered the chosen sample size of 160 respondents as one which "provides a sufficient profile of the general views of mainly the residents in Naxxar" despite the somewhat large sample of error of ±8.24%. Case officer approval The development is still be- ing recommended for approval despite clear objections by the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage and the Naxxar local council. The case officer rebuts the SCH's concern on the visual im- pact of the project by conclud- ing that "notwithstanding the fact that this innovative design would contribute to a change in this area in terms of skyline and building morphology, this is be- ing considered as an effective step towards the introduction of a modern building within the exiting urban context, pro- viding a bold contrast between the old and new architectural element". The main reason given for ap- proval is that it fulfils the crite- ria of the FAR (Floor Area Ratio) policy and that "the innovative design of the proposed scheme will contribute to a new lively and liveable neighbourhood." But the report does not even refer to the part of the FAR policy, which states that "tall buildings" should be restrict- ed to a 25m contour above sea level. Although technically not a tall building, as it is less than 11 floors, approving a 10 and an 8-storey tower in a locality which is 126m above sea level, suggests that a more prudent is required in high lying areas. Despite the recommendation for approval by the Develop- ment Directorate, the PA plan- ning board may still refuse to approve the project as it has re- cently done with a proposed ho- tel in Dingli cliffs, which was al- so recommended, for approval. The planning board had al- ready refused to approve the project in 2020 despite a recom- mendation by the case officer to approve. And while some improvements have been made in the design, the changes did not address the major concern expressed by the PA board with regards to the suitability of ap- proving such a high building in Naxxar. …but PA's case officer still recommends approval and fails to refer to results of survey in his report Naxxar 10-storey towers: two in three residents opposed project PUBLIC CONSULTATION Submit your opinion or suggestions on the published document proposing an investment of €167 million. CAP STRATEGIC PLAN 2023-2027 1. Foster a smart, competitive, resilient and diversified agricultural sector ensuring long-term food security; 2. Support and strengthen environmental protection, including biodiversity, and climate action and contribute to achieving the environmental and climate related objectives of the Union, including its commitments under the Paris Agreement; and 3. Strengthen the socio-economic fabric of rural areas. Consultation document may be downloaded from: Send your submissions to : by the 10th December 2021 Rural Development Programme for Malta 2014-2020 Part financed by the European Union Co-financing Rate: 75% European Union; 25% Government of Malta The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe invesƟng in rural areas CAP Strategic Plan for Malta 2023-2027 is a programme co-funded by the European Union

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