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MALTATODAY 3 April 2022

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MALTATODAY 9 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 3 APRIL 2022 MEMBRU PARLAMENTARI Grazzi tal-fiducja taghkom! 9917 9284 ELETT FUQ IR-4 U L-10 DISTRETT Villa Rosa sole bidders for public alley JAMES DEBONO THE developers of the Vil- la Rosa estate in St George's Bay are the sole bidders for a public alleyway that connects the beachfront to the vast ex- panse set to be developed into a high-rise project. Garnet Investments, which owns the Villa Rosa estate, presented a €134,000 bid for the 620sq.m alleyway that leads into the Ħarq Ħamiem valley. The sum offered by the company is just above the min- imum price tag of €133,846 set by the Lands Authority. While stating that the pas- sageway cannot be blocked, the public call's wording does not exclude the construction of a 5.5m-high 'tunnel', rais- ing concerns of overhead con- struction at a price lower than expected. Bidders had till 24 March, two days before the country went to the polls, to present their offer. The Lands Authority has not replied to questions from MaltaToday on how valuation was carried out, and the public purpose behind the sale of the alley. The Planning Authority has already approved the dem- olition of Moynihan House and Dolphin House to make way for commercial develop- ment by Garnet Investments, a company owned by Anton Camilleri. But new plans for a 34-storey tower near the Bay Street mall, and another 27-storey tower at the heart of the 50,000sq.m Villa Rosa, have been presented by the same company. The project is a mix of ho- tels, serviced apartments, of- fices, recreational facilities, shops, bars, restaurants and a multi-purpose hall. While a considerable part of the site is designated as a public open space, the Environment and Resources Authority has ex- pressed concern at the "signif- icant" intensification of devel- opment proposed on-site. The public open space will be located between the proposed buildings and the coastal promenade, but intensive de- velopment will be immediate- ly bordering the sensitive val- ley area. The ERA expressed concern that excavations are proposed well within the es- tablished buffer zone of Ħarq Ħammiem cave, with addi- tional excavations to the west of Moynihan House bringing interventions closer towards the area of the upper chamber of the underlying cave system. In view of this the ERA has decreed that an Environment Impact Assessment is neces- sary before plans for the de- velopment are evaluated. THE number of newly detect- ed COVID-19 cases rose to 791 on Saturday, a high point since early January. Data published online by the Superintendence of Public Health r e v e a l e d that one f u r t h e r p e r s o n died while i n f e c t - ed with the vi- rus in the pre- vious 24 hours. There are cur- rently 6,495 active cases, a record for 2022 so far. The last time active cases topped 6,000 was on 22 De- cember. That data made available publicly does not include in- formation about the number of patients requiring hospital treatment or intensive care – argua- bly the most i m p o r t a n t metric in m e a s u r - ing the t h r e a t p o s e d by the p a n - demic. M a l t a still has the lowest of COVID-relat- ed ITU occupan- cy across the EU accord- ing to data published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. COVID cases rise to 791, with 6,495 active cases

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