The concrete jungle at Marsascala


Marsascala is fast becoming a concrete jungle. Houses have been pulled down and redeveloped over the past years with blocks of flats and garages taking their place. This is the manner in which the building industry is proceeding, raping what’s left of our built environment with the assistance of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority. The number of vacant dwellings in the meantime keeps increasing. It has surpassed the 54,000 mark established in the 2005 census.

The latest addition to this jungle is the massive development at Ta’ Monita. Dwarfing the Marsascala parish church it ruins the skyline.

A letter entitled Marsascala Ruined Once And For All was published on March 22, 2011 in The Times. The online comments it generated are indicative of the perceived links between politics and the building industry. The fact that the Ta’ Monita Mepa permit was issued in April 2004, two years before the present Marsascala mayor was first elected, does not in any way diminish the seriousness of the perceived contamination.

George Vella, elected as member of Parliament for many years from the electoral district of which Marsascala forms part, made a very passionate intervention on the matter in the House of Representatives on April 11, 2011. He lamented the fact that a local council that has been under the guidance of his party’s local councillors appears insensitive to the manner in which the Ta’ Monita development is engulfing the Marsascala community.

While subscribing to most of what Dr Vella stated on the matter, I noted that during his intervention he did not consider it appropriate to refer to the impacts which the financing of electoral campaigns could have on the behaviour of politicians. It is an issue the Labour Party should seriously examine in order to determine whether any of its representatives has risked being domesticated as a result of the financing of electoral campaigns.

Dr Vella used his observations on the Ta’ Monita development to launch a pre-emptive strike on what could be another potential bombshell.

St Anne public garden in Marsascala has been devolved to the local council since November 2010. Rumours have been circulating for some time as to what uses are being considered for the area. The said rumours would also have us believe as to who will be favoured by decisions yet to be taken.

On March 15, 2011 the Marsascala local council was informed by its mayor that a call for “an expression of interest” on St Anne public garden would be issued shortly. He said that, while embellishment works would be one of the objectives, these would be in addition to the construction of administrative offices, some shops, an underground car park and linkage to the Church parvis in order to develop what is, to date, a missing village square. In addition, according to the council’s published minutes, the Marsascala mayor deems it essential to carry out a traffic survey. He also considers that the opening up of Triq il-Qrempuċ could ease traffic pressures on the waterfront, thereby permitting more leisurely commercial activity.

I have had the opportunity to ask the mayor various questions about the project. He is envisaging public consultation and an involvement of the private sector. According to the published minutes, decisions are to be taken by the local council at some time in the future after considering submissions by the private sector and comments from the community.

While the minutes of the local council are in conflict with the rumours in circulation, one never knows what can crop up in the form of proposals to be submitted by the “private sector”.

The Marsascala mayor is on record as stating that “nothing will be done outside public scrutiny”. It is submitted that this is not sufficient because it makes little difference to the community if its assets are ruined openly or in an underhand manner.

An open discussion is urgently required on the very parameters of the project in order that it be ensured that the community is the real beneficiary.

Given that the Local Plan applicable to Marsascala defines the area as being a “public urban open space”, the starting point of the debate should be the compatibility of the project with the Local Plan.

This exercise, when carried out, would reveal that most of the elements of the project, which may be of interest to the private sector, are in conflict with the provisions of the Local Plan for the area (vide South Local Plan policy SMSE 04). The project is hence a non-starter.

So, for the time being, the only matter the public is sure of is that the concrete jungle in Marsascala keeps being extended. Change for the better at times seems to get more distant in time. That is until you realise that you cannot achieve change if you do not vote for it..

Published in The Times of Malta, May 21  2011

6 comments on “The concrete jungle at Marsascala

  1. A very good article. I agree that the project proposed by the Marsaskala Mayor is a on starter as it goes again the local plan for the South of Malta. I also agree that consultation should have taken place from the outset and not after the tender for ‘expression of interest’ have been issued. Furthermore it appears that the paramenters for the project have already been decided by the Council or by the Mayor. According to the minutes of the Council the project is not a question of embellishment or landscaping, but it consists of of the buildking of local council’s offices, commercial shops and a car park. I consider that this project may be of benefit to someone, but surely not to the Marsaskala residents. I feel I am duty bound to thank you and Dr George Vella for your interest in our locality.

  2. Dear Carmel. Thank you for ur contribution in the Times this Morning under the title jungle is the massive development at ta’ monita. On this I have commented already and u have also stated urself that permits were issued 2 years before I was elected Mayor. But u should note that Council at that time leadered by Charlot Mifsud had objected to such development.This was also confirmed by councillor john Baptist Camilleri during our last Council meeting last Thursday.
    As regards St ann’s garden you have explained well that nothing will be done outside public Scrunity.
    On the other hand and where I might disagree with you is that u stated that project is a non-starter.
    Pls note that MEPA permits to build the administrative offices had been issue in 2009. Here the Council could have had started building the council but we preferred to halt and wait for the Local Council’s Reform so we involve the Public Private partnership and also apply for the whole devolution of the garden whic we got at the end of 2010.
    Our intension is to develope a holistic project but as I have said a good number of times always with a good consultation with the public after we issue an expression of interest.

  3. It is not our wish that a car park will be built in St.Anne’ gardens.
    To do so you have to remove all the trees.That is not what we want.Our intention is to to develope a holistic project but with good consultation with the public after we issue an expression of interest.

  4. Mr. George Farrugia do you honestly think that us residents are stupid? How can one have a car park underneath St. Anne’s garden without eradicating all the trees. You must have a fertile immagination or at all cost you are trying to defend the Marsascala Mayor for this banal idea.

    Even the previous Mayor Carmel Mifsud did not consult us residents and did everything behind our backs when applying to built the administrative offices in Saint Anne’s garden. This is a public garden and should remain so.

    Mayor Calleja conveyed to me in one of his emails that all is needed is the space of the garden and least getting rid of all the trees!!!! As proof I kept all corrispondence.

    Mr. Farrugia I suggest before putting forward the Expression of Interest, first and foremost to see if it is approved by the whole council and a clear vote should be taken. Shame on you all for keeping everything hush, hush and never at least consulted with the residents living around the garden, the ones most likely to suffer from such a ludicrous project. Surely these people would not benefit from all this, but on the other hand who is going to benefit???????

  5. Mr. George Farrugia you do not seem to agree with your Mayor’s proposed Expression of Interest published as stated by Carmel Cacopardo in the council’s minutes of 15/03/2011. Black on white the Expression of Interest states clearly the intensions proposed by the Mayor on behalf of the council and this no doubt will reflect on the plans to be submitted and later to be shown and discussed in a public meeting to be held in the future. The residents feel that everything is being done buttocks over backwards, pardon the expression! (UPSIDE DOWN). I would have imagined the residents to be consulted first especially the ones living around St. Anne’s garden. George if your wish is against the underground car park instead of the garden than you are proclaiming that you are against the project as proposed by your Mayor. That’s why I agree with Mr. Cachia in his comment that first this project ought to be discussed in the council and a vote should be taken. Forget your weird intentions to develop a holistic project (meaningless words). The people most badly hit are the residents living in that area. I am sure that a study on the impacts this bombastic project on residents and the locality has not been carried out and this should be done, if your council approves such a project, before any consultation meeting.

    Mr. Farrugia you are contradicting yourself, possibly in trying to camouflage the ‘Paprata’ project by your Mayor.

  6. I refer to the senseless, contradictory comments made by George Farrugia. It appears that this gentleman is a Marsaskala Labour councillor. I wish to tell George Farrugia one simple thing.

    Halli nghidha bil-Malti halli jifhimni zgur. Tiskanta kif hawn kunsilliera li filwaqt li ma jafux xi jkun qed jigri madwarhom, ihobbu jservu ta’ banketta, biex inkun pulit!!!

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