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MaltaToday 30 October 2022

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16 NEWS maltatoday | SUNDAY • 30 OCTOBER 2022 JAMES DEBONO A decision on the proposed de- velopment of 118 apartments in a green area in Marsaskala due last Thursday, was postponed after Planning Board chairman Emanuel Camilleri used his power to remove it from the board's agenda. The Development and Plan- ning Act gives the authority's chairman the power to withdraw any application from the PA agenda, which he feels deserves "further review". "The application was removed from agenda on request by the Executive Chairperson in line with the law since in this case the Executive Chairperson deemed that the proposal required fur- ther review in particular with re- gards to design treatment of the facades," a spokesperson for the PA told MaltaToday. The power granted to the chairman by law is rarely used by the PA and suggests that de- sign considerations are now be- ing given greater priority, even though this is unlikely to change the magnitude of the project. The application covers 5,000sq.m out of the 8,000 sq.m green area inserted in the devel- opment zones in 2006 and slat- ed for a five-storey block since 2019. Subsequently, the site was earmarked for the development of 118 apartments in an applica- tion presented by GAP Projects earlier this year. The case officer recommended approval, arguing that its "holis- tic design" would be preferable over piecemeal developments on single plots. A decision on the development was due last Thursday, but in a sign that the Planning Author- ity has cold feet on the visual impact of the project, it is now expecting changes to the design that would create a blank par- ty wall, making it highly visible both from the Marsaskala prom- enade and from the surrounding countryside. The application does not in- clude the entire site that is whol- ly zoned for five-storey heights. This means that traffic, visual and environmental impact stud- ies from GAP will not take into consideration the development of the entire site, which borders on a Special Area of Conserva- tion and is set to alter the skyline from across the bay. It is very likely that, following approval of the GAP project, other permit requests will fol- low, to develop the entire site without any studies assessing the development in its entirety. The case officer did acknowl- edge "an environmental impact" from the permanent loss of the area, but conceded that it had now been rezoned for five-storey heights since 2019. The case officer also acknowl- edged that long-distance views from Triq Is-Salini and Triq Il-Blajjiet would see the skyline "change significantly with the proposal", contradicting the pre- vious case officer's claim on the 2019 rezoning that five-storey heights "would have minimum impact on long distance views". But the case officer conclud- ed that GAP's development is coherent with the area's urban setting with a holistic design ap- proach, ignoring the fact that the application does not include the whole site. And while the development will create an average 662 new car trips a day in this presently quiet area, the case officer claims the impact is addressed through "the implementation of sustain- able measures such as provision of electric vehicle charging bays; parking spaces for motorbikes, bicycles and electric scooters," which would limit air quality im- pacts. Although any development over 75 apartments is obliged to carry out a Traffic Impact Assessment, this obligation was waived due to a "scoping report" that deemed there would be no congestion in an area with al- ready low traffic. A traffic consultant's report declared that a holistic develop- ment like this one was preferable to separate developments. As spelled out in conditions imposed by ERA no decorative lighting can be applied to the building being close to the Inwa- dar nature park, a special area of conservation of national impor- tance. PA board chairman sends Zonqor project back to drawing board The power granted to the chairman by law is rarely used by the PA and suggests that design considerations are now being given greater priority

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