Reductions in the proposed volume of development on the site of the former Jerma Palace Hotel in Marsascala do not go far enough and will still dwarf the nearby St Thomas Tower, Moviment Graffitti said on Saturday.

It said that while it welcomed changes in the consultation document on the development brief for the site,  the proposed development at 65,000sqm was still grossly disproportionate to the size and infrastructure of the locality and offered little in terms of the wellbeing of the Marsascala residents. The original proposal was for 100,000sqm of land to be used for development.

"We agree with the proposed demolition of the abandoned building, which is not only an eyesore for residents and tourists alike, but also poses a danger to anyone who tries to access the coast. Nonetheless, it remains evident that this development brief has been drafted with the primary intention to accommodate the interests of a few developers and with little concern for the well-being of the residents," the group added.

"Regrettably, the development brief totally ignores the potential deleterious effects that this large-scale development will have on the community and the surrounding environment, and which could become the tipping point towards an unlivable Marsascala."

The group pointed out that the proposed volume of the development (65,000sqm floor space) constitutes more than double the volume currently occupied by the ex-Jerma Palace Hotel (30,000sqm floor space).

"Encouraging such a massive development by committing 65,000sqm for development is in direct contradiction to recent warnings about saturation in tourist accommodations and claims by tourism industry experts that mass tourism and large high-end projects should make way for more sustainable economic and social models and smaller-scale investments, respectively," it argued. 

Moreover, the development brief would allow buildings to rise up to eight storeys, which is significantly higher than the current ex-Jerma structure.

St Thomas Tower would be overshadowed by this massive development and the surrounding residences would also be dwarfed by the imposing structures.

The group said it was also concerned that the Brief allows the use of the land for non-touristic purposes. 26,000sqm of floor space (which would translate to around 160 apartments) have been committed for residential purposes.

"This is in direct breach of a 1982 parliamentary resolution which decreed that the area in question could only be developed for touristic purposes. Residential development on the ex-Jerma site will only benefit the developer and will reap no social and economic benefits to the locality and its residents in the long-term," it insisted.

The Development Brief also ran counter to the Local Plan by including two additional areas which were not included in the area delineated by the Local Plan. They are a green area which should be accessible to the public and where no increase in height or volume is permitted, as well as a heritage site for which there is already a policy which is applicable. 

Moviment Graffitti insisted the Development Brief should prioritize the well-being of residents and enhance the town’s social, historical and environmental value, and not seek to accommodate developers’ interests.  

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