Heritage organisation Din l-Art Ħelwa (DLH) has filed an objection against Marsaxlokk FC’s development proposal for a commercialised ‘sports’ complex development in the area known as the Kavallerizza seafront, citing the lack of a development brief which needs to be submitted due to the project’s size. It is set to take up 13,225sqm of land.
“The Local Plan envisages that no development be approved before the preparation of a development brief which is approved by the Planning Authority. It is important because it provides a holistic view of the proposals for a large area, and permits a verification before detailed plans are submitted, that the objections of the Local Plan are being respected,” DLH told The Shift.
Yet the applicants behind the proposal to convert part of a public parking space and football pitch into a complex featuring an elderly people’s home, a physiotherapy clinic, space for sports gear retailers and even a childcare centre, have failed to submit an approved development brief, going against the directives of the local plan.
Besides pointing out that without the development brief, it remains unclear which parts of the area can be developed, DLH maintained that the proposal runs counter to the objectives set out for the area by the local plan. According to these objectives, development in the area should be limited to tourism while being strictly limited to open, wide development.
“For example, the local plan envisages that only a modest proportion of the area would be subject to development proposals. It is essential to maintain its open character. On the contrary, the home for the elderly, in particular, appears to significantly increase density, without any provision for open space,” DLH stated.
This week, The Shift reported how the executive president of DLH, Alex Torpiano, and Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) both highlighted the proposal’s highly commercialised nature abuses concessions awarded to entities such as sports clubs by using cheaply acquired public land for private gain.
The local plan for the Kavallerizza seafront also points out that whatever limited development is allowed to occur in the area should provide better community, leisure, sports and playground facilities, upgrading pedestrian and vessel berthing facilities as well as transforming the nearby Triq il-Qajjenza into a heritage trail.
“In other words, the Local Plan sees a great opportunity to upgrade the area for residents and tourists, and this is what a development brief would focus on. It is pointless writing and approving local plans if they are then ignored. This application cannot be approved before there is a proper holistic plan for the area, in line with the local plan,” DLH stated.
Besides DLH, individual objections have also been filed, with residents resubmitting the same objections that had been filed in 2020 after Marsaxlokk FC had filed an even larger application for a similar development on the same site.
Over the years, there have been several, high-profile concessions of public land being awarded to developers for large scale projects, with one of the most well-known instances being the concession awarded to DB Group in the ITS deal.
In another, more recent deal, The Shift reported how the government conceded land at Ħal Ferħ to Corinthia Group for a measly €1.3 million after stating it would be pocketing €10 million for the concession which will allow Corinthia Group to build exclusive luxury villas on public land.