Bird Hunting
NEWS | Sunday, 02 September 2007

Gatt unveils 20 projects for Grand Harbour facelift

Bianca Caruana

Rumours of Boffa Hospital being turned into a five-star hotel were finally confirmed yesterday when Investments Minister Austin Gatt presented 20 plans for a Grand Harbour “regeneration”, which will include new promenades, new recreational zones, and a complete facelift of the docks.
Gatt yesterday presented a report of the government’s vision for the regeneration of the Grand Harbour and the surrounding docks across Marsa, Paola and the Cottonera. The plans are a result of continuous studies carried out since 1990.
He said the government’s vision was to “strengthen the idea of making Malta the place to be for more than one economical sector. This is why 20 initiatives are being put forward.”
One of these initiatives is to transform Sir Paul Boffa Hospital into a five-star hotel once the opening of Mater Dei Hospital is finalised. The ministry said the hospital was considered to be an appropriate location to potentially attract international organisations, to cope with the increase of cruise liner activity and audio-visual productivity.
“Tourists coming to Malta on cruise liners will have the opportunity to disembark directly within our capital city instead of having to travel there from elsewhere,” Gatt said.
Also earmarked are a new cruise liner terminal in Senglea, the extension of the Valletta cruise liner terminal, and a yacht marina in Kalkara.
All 20 plans are expected to be implemented by 2015. Gatt said all the proposals were “economically feasible” and that they will eventually become a reality on the basis of the governments “good track record”.
Residents of Marsa will be pleased to learn that the power station will be finally closed down and replaced with an open-air public recreational area, or public garden. Electricity will be generated using environmentally friendly methods, mainly solar power.
A bridge-like promenade will also connect all the towns from Fort Ricasoli to Senglea, connecting all the previously built promenades along the Harbour.
The Rinella valley is also being proposed for afforestation, while Ricasoli Fort will be turned into a film centre which will offer audiovisual and cinematic services.
The projects will include the conservation of historical heritage and economic activity provided by tourism, commerce, as well as environmental coherence and adequate transport to service the areas.
Work is expected to begin once consultations and all feedback has ceased by the end of December this year. Work will be overseen by the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation.
“We have done all this primarily to expand the economy sector but all our plans are intended to respect our Maltese heritage and the character of our city,” Gatt said. “We will not build any high rises or a numerous amount of flats because this would not go with the holistic approach we are attempting to take with these proposals.”

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