A controversial application to open a gaming parlour in the heart of Senglea has been turned down, with the Malta Environment and Planning Authority saying the proposal constituted “bad neighbourhood development”.

Mepa’s decision to refuse the permit had protected Senglea’s residential and historic nature

The proposal was one of several highlighted by Cottonera residents over recent weeks, amid concerns about the social repercussions such venues would have on what is an already depressed region.

“We’re absolutely delighted by Mepa’s decision. What’s even better is the reasoning behind it,” said Friends of Cottonera Forum representative Anne Armstrong. “It’s great to see recognition that the area is residential in nature and needs socially positive developments.”

The decision to refuse the application noted the area’s predominantly residential nature, saying that opening up a gaming parlour there would “not be in the interest of the area and constitute bad neighbourhood development”.

There was further relief on the part of Corin Moss, who owns the property above the proposed gaming parlour’s location. Mepa’s decision to refuse the permit had protected Senglea’s residential and historic nature, he said.

“The decision strengthens our resolve to restore our house to its previous proud state, and play our part in making Senglea a better place.” Together with Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, the Friends of Cottonera Forum had lobbied strongly against the proposal, attending Mepa meetings and writing letters to local papers.

But while they found the support of Cospicua local council – with mayor Joseph Scerri having issued a blanket condemnation of such applications – Senglea’s local council had declined to take a stance on the issue.

Ms Armstrong remained perplexed by the council’s reluctance to comment. “I’m still at a total loss as to why the council didn’t speak out. Hopefully, this decision will influence their stance and encourage them to speak out about such proposals in the future.”

Efforts at contacting Senglea mayor Justin Camilleri yesterday were unsuccessful.

Despite delighting several residents, the permit refusal will have disappointed applicant Johann Schembri. He could perhaps seek solace in another Mepa decision: last Wednesday, an application of his to open a gaming parlour in Santa Tereza Street, Cospicua, was approved.

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