For once I am going to be a true blue NIMBY. However, by the time you reach the conclusion of this article, you will, sure as eggs are eggs, have forgiven me.

We have systematically ruined our countryside and disfigured our urbanscape- Kenneth Zammit Tabona

Let me start by stating here and now that I live in a block of flats in Lapsi Street, St Julians, which, a couple of decades ago, replaced a house called Villa Yuani, which, in turn, sometime in the 1920s, blocked off the view of all the houses on what is now the inner side of the street; one of these still retains the legend Valley View to prove it.

Sometime in the late 1950s, the government of the day, seeing the population of St Julians increase, built a primary school just below the houses that had usurped the view in the 1920s. That is how things have moved since then, just like dense jungle vegetation smothering and choking each other for a glimpse of the sun.

There is still today a stretch of green – a lung, in fact – that stretches all the way up from the sadly abandoned Villa Fieres in Spinola right up to the Regional Road tunnels. There is also what is left of what was Wied Għomor, which, over the last couple of decades of living in St Julians, I have watched shrinking to insignificance. By some fluke we still have some trees and shrubs and a bit of countryside to remind us of what was once a lovely unspoilt valley within living memory.

There is now a plethora of applications before the Malta Environment and Planning Authority that will render the entire stretch from Spinola Square right up to the Regional Road one gigantic building site. This includes the so-called embellishment of Spinola Square itself, which, really, doesn’t need it and the rehabilitation of what used to be the Tigullio at the mouth of the valley with its pretty “trulli”. The mind boggles at the very scale of what is to happen. Just listen to this.

Starting down in the square adjacent to the steps next to Saddles, a massive block of 21 apartments, retail outlets and parking lots going up six floors has been proposed. Then there is the still vague Tigullio project, which threatens to choke what is left of the “Gardens” side of the valley.

From the footbridge leading off St Julians parish church up to the primary school is a mega project consisting of five floors of underground parking, two floors of offices, a supermarket and another five floors of apartments. This is supposed to rise to eight levels and, hence, will be exceeding the height of the existing Lapsi Street buildings.

As if that were not enough, from the primary school right up to the Regional Road tunnels, an old people’s home of 156 beds, a day care centre, a clinic and council offices plus 105 parking lots rising up to six floors is planned.

I am sure that you will agree that the scale is simply mind-boggling and that it goes against all the principles that we were told Mepa is supposed to uphold. Yes we do need an old people’s home desperately but we really do not need another supermarket with two already within spitting distance of each other.

We certainly do not need more apartments to add to the list of unoccupied properties around us and the St Julians local council does not need a new office.

Still less do we need parking lots with the Portomaso and Pender Place ones to take the influx of non-resident cars.

That leaves the defunct Villa Fieres as a prime candidate to be lovingly restored and sympathetically extended to become an old people’s home. I am sure you will agree that old people would far prefer to be down in Spinola where they can nip out to enjoy a promenade in the bay rather than be marooned up near the Regional Road tunnels.

The rest of the projects are simple barefaced speculation; restaurants, cafes and the like of which there are two a penny in St Julians already.

Just under 20 years ago, I escaped the wholescale destruction of Għar id-Dud Street where I had lived happily and tranquilly for 34 years to the then relatively safe haven of St Julians.

The building frenzy in Għar id- Dud continues at full tilt; 20 years on! The apartment blocks on either side of the street are now so close that the once gracious row of elegant houses – the oldest in Sliema – has been transmogrified into a sunless crevasse of steel and concrete.

We cannot go on like this. The environmental impact on St Julians with all these mega projects will be a hundred times worse. Where in Malta can one go and live without being threatened with a battalion of diggers, trucks and concrete mixers? Filfla? It has become ridiculous.

We have overdone it. We have systematically ruined our countryside and disfigured our urbanscape. We live in a dustbowl that is choking us and should this conglomeration of projects happen it will translate into untold hardship due to the collective noise and dust pollution. Add the daily inconveniences of a procession of trucks and cement mixers blocking our roads under a forest of cranes whirling above our heads.

Imagine living in such a scenario for years on end.

As for the sound of diggers that at the best of times sound like an amplified firing squad of machine guns, that is she stuff nightmares are made of.

No, it simply must be stopped as should other projects in other towns and villages of Malta where this so-called progress threatens to destroy the way of life and the health of the residents. It is thinly veiled mayhem and must be brought under control finally and forever.

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