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News • June 27 2004

The Palms could become four block high rise complex; highest 19 storeys

Julian Manduca

Hundreds of people that live in the St Julian’s Ta Giorni area around The Palms are furious because they fear their residences will suffer because of the planned redevelopment of The Palms wedding complex.
The Borg family, owner of The Palms, have sold the wedding hall and the new owners intend concretising their investment by turning what is a low lying building surrounded by a large area of lavish gardens into a four block complex with towers 19, 9, 5, and 4 storeys high.
The complex on an area of eight and a half tumoli would leave much less space for greenery, and the residents are fuming because the properties they bought - enjoying wonderful views - will be spoilt by the development.
Building such a large and dense development in an area that is already congested will be a disaster for the area, the residents maintain.
The Palms lies adjacent to agricultural land and all the farmers in the vicinity are worried their land could be adversely affected by what would be a large construction process spanning several years. They fear that the damage to their land could be irreversible.
The residents, hundreds of whom have signed a petition opposing the plans, are organising opposition to the project under the umbrella of a consortium of condominium associations and told MaltaToday they have the backing of the St Julian’s Local Council and its mayor Peter Bonello.
Many of the residents contacting MaltaToday this week said that up until recently they were not aware such a massive project was being proposed on their doorstep and found it unacceptable that they were never informed. They said no MEPA application notice was ever affixed in a visible place on The Palms, even though an application was submitted in December of last year.
The residents have written to MEPA to protest against the proposed development and are hoping the application will grind to a halt.
They told MaltaToday that the location is unsuited to such a major project; that the statutory services of water and electricity - already stretched to the limit - will be further disadvantaged for supply by the opening of the new massive hotel complex, Le Meridien, in the vicinity.
The residents said the roadways in the area are totally inadequate for additional traffic of motor vehicles and especially heavy trucks. They complained that the ambience of the peaceful residential area will be destroyed forever.
Ever since the Hilton Tower in St Julian’s was granted planning permission following the advice of MEPA personnel who suggested a tower, a plethora of applications have been submitted for similar high rise constructions.
A 17 story tower under construction is already dwarfing Sliema as an addition to the Fortina Hotel, and applications have been received by MEPA for further high rises in Msida (23 storeys) and Qawra (31 storeys).
Next to the Fortina Tower, and certainly within smoke signal distance from it, a taller 24 storey tower, is planned as part of the Manoel Island Tigne tourism complex.
One that had really caught people’s eye, however, is the application submitted 6 January of this year, by the heirs of the Markiz Scicluna, one of the founders of Farsons, to site a 42 storey tower on what is already high ground in Naxxar.
None of the other proposed tower developments, however, would quite match what is being proposed for The Palms, which would be a family of Towers next to each other in a densely populated area.
Any visitor to Malta can be excused for thinking Malta is a building site with continual hardship for those living near building sites. The EU regulations should improve matters, but the extent of construction development shows no sign of letting up.





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