MDA insists PA should not accommodate individual projects through development briefs

The Malta Developers Association expressed its opposition to the Planning Authority’s reviews of development briefs with the apparent aim of accommodating individual projects, insisting that Malta needed a solid long-term development plan.

In its statement, the MDA did not refer to any development brief by name. However, the PA has recently courted controversy through development briefs it has issued for particular large-scale projects.

A number of NGOs have taken the authority to court over what they describe as a flawed development brief for the former Jerma Palace Hotel site in Marsascala, where the authority is proposing a high-density, half-residential project with a total floor space more than twice that of the derelict hotel.

The authority is also proposing allowing residential units in the former Ħal Ferħ holiday complex, with the Church’s Environment Commission, among others, insisting that this was unacceptable.

Development briefs should not be treated ‘like chewing gum’

The MDA said that it did not agree “with the way this piecemeal approach is being adopted by the PA where planning is made to accommodate the needs of certain projects only, without considering the specific characteristics and amenities in the surroundings.”

These partial changes, it said, served to circumvent local plans, often resulting in more stress on the surrounding neighbourhoods and instrastructure.

“We cannot keep treating development briefs like chewing-gum. Development briefs should be part of a holistic vision and not a tool which could be used only to accommodate individual projects. The public and potential investors are being short-changed through these so-called reviews, and this is unfair and unequitable. Goalposts should not be consistently moving,” MDA director-general Marthese Portelli said.

 “We need to start a fresh page with a real long-term vision. Politicians should start thinking out of the box and not through five-year electoral lenses.”