To defeat this, we need to mobilise people – Alden

Ta'Fatima Church and Villa Gauci to its right

‘We need to mobilise local NGOs and the local community to create enough pressure in order for there to be any way to defeat a project like this,’, said Timothy Alden, Deputy leader of the Partit Demokratiku, talking about a development in Pietá.

Newsbook.com.mt has been covering the developments surrounding an ambitious development planned for the area cornering Triq Santa Monika and Triq Id Duluri.

The proposed development would see the demolition of two villas and a farmhouse followed by the construction of 114 apartments, retail and commercial space and 69 car parking spaces.

Let us safeguard #Pietà's largest garden and the two remarkable post-war villas in Triq Santa Monica right next door to Ta'Fatima Church and in sight of #VillaGuardamangia. 114 flats. Retails for whom? Offices. Questiobable architecture. And only 69 car spaces. This 'wall of #greed' has to be prevented for the sake of Tal-Pietà. More: PA/08271/18Location of development: Villa Gauci and The Orange Grove, Triq Santa Monika c/w, Triq id-Duluri, Pieta, MaltaDescription of works: Proposed demolition of 2 villas and one dilapidated farm house, construction of 1 office (class 4A), 3 retail (class 4B) , 114 apartments including penthouses, proposed botanic garden, communal pool and underlying 3 levels of basement garages (44 garages, 25 car spaces, substation and refuse area).

Posted by Pietà Heritage Society on Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Alden has been one of the few politicians to reach out to the concerned residents raising their voices about the proposed development planned for their neighbourhood.

The politician explained to Newsbook.com.mt that the locality of Pietá was an ‘underappreciated jewel of Maltese heritage’ that existed within a delicate ecosystem. ‘One development like this can tip the balance and ruin the entire area permanently’, he explained.

Read more:

Fatima Church to be buried behind massive development

Twice as many apartments as there are car spaces

In order for things to change with the development and protect local heritage, it was very important that the process of forming and applying public pressure was entrusted to the community and the NGOs, and backed up with an educational component.

So far, the Mayor of Pietá, Keith Tanti had launched his own petition which has been trying to gather the initial signatures of 1,000 local residents and citizens. At this current time, there are over 400 signatures registered.

Pietá Mayor issues petition objecting to proposed development   

While Alden agrees wholly with the need for the petition, he puts forward a couple of suggestions to help the process along.

Picture taken of Ta’Fatima Church in the 1960s. Both villas pictured in the bottom left.
Credit: Thorsten Maier

Timing:

He states that having been a Facebook post expressing concern and a recent petition at this early stage, there is flexibility both for the architect to revise the plans and to generate the necessary education and communication of messages across the community about the development.  Voicing their views also stiffens the Planning Authority’s position on the desires of the developer.

The objection:

Although the petition has shown that people are interested in what the development will mean, it does open up the prospect that the public will think they’ve already objected when in actual fact, the objection process is completely different.  The formal objection carries more power and will be a more stronger signal to the developers and architect.

With the situation still at the early stage, Alden explains that there is still time to see what alterations have been made by the developers and architect.

For now, it is a case of generating the pressure both on the developer but also on the Planning Authority to see the impact of such a development on the local areas.

Credit: Thorsten Maier

‘These days there are too many projects going on in Malta. You’ll sometimes get a couple of hundred or a few thousand objections. That’s made it easy for the Planning Authority to grow desensitized to objections.  Pietá has people that haven’t been mobilised on this subject yet, so it would be worth mobilising them on this now.’