Civil group calls for residents to object AUM development

Credit: Piero Bigi

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A civil action group ‘Action: Give us Back our Land’ is requesting all concerned parties to sign a petition objecting to the American University of Malta’s (AUM) extensions on Dock 1 and its environs in Cospicua. 

In a statement, the group explained that it will be organising actions in the run-up to the Planning Authority (PA) hearing of PA application 07496/16. It added that yesterday, the hearing was postponed, at the applicant’s request, from the 12th September to 26th September.

Read: Govt needs to reconsider building on open spaces in three cities – FAA

The PA application involves the construction of an administrative building between the British and the Knights Building. This building would be in place of the current open community space, recently upgraded with EU funding on the Dock 1 waterfront. 

The civil action group stated that it was formed when it transpired that, “contrary to the popular belief of residents, and even media reports stating otherwise, none of the Cottonera local councils have objected to the development.”

Read: PD calls on Government to re-think AUM decision

It is believed that both Bormla and Senglea’s Local Councils sent formal letters to the PA, objecting only to the depletion of public parking places which would result from the development.  The group insisted that only Senglea councillor Malcolm Gatt put in an objection as an individual, flagging up concerns about loss of open and community space, as well as heritage considerations. Other objectors voicing these multiple concerns were: ‘Forum Kumunita Bormliża’, ‘Għaqda Dilettanti Sajjieda Barklori Isla’, ‘Flimkien Għal Ambient Aħjar’, ‘Din L-Art Ħelwa’, ‘Futur Ambjent Wieħed’ and several individuals.  Member of Parliament Glenn Bedingfield has recently raised some of these concerns publically, the group said.

It added that despite several cited planning policy violations, the project is being recommended for approval by the case officer.

Read: PA to decide on AUM development next month; plan impacts skyline

The civil action group stated that the AUM would also take over the Knights Building, adding two floors to it and extending it with a “new wing”. This increase in height will block the view of the Senglea fortifications from Dock 1. The view will be further blocked by the “new wing” extension, which will also take up further open, communal space on the Dock 1 waterfront.

The application for the building of a dormitory and car park, on an open plot with heritage remains on St. Paul’s Street is also part of the “campus masterplan”. However, it is understood that this part of the AUM extension application’s decision has been postponed.