The Fortina hotel lido in Sliema is to be extended to include temporary pontoons for boats to dock, following a series of plans announced by Economy Minister Silvio Schembri on Friday. 

Schembri is set to table four parliamentary resolutions for the projects, which will all receive public land concessions or changes to their current lease agreements.

The lido had already been granted planning permission for its extension through land reclamation last year.

The pontoons are to be put in place during the summer months and dismantled during winter. A spokesperson for Schembri said public access to the foreshore will remain in place and swimming in the area will not be impacted, except for the immediate area where the pontoons will be placed. A restaurant currently at ground level will be moved to a lower platform and replaced with a small public garden.

In total, the project will involve 504 square metres of land reclamation, 356 square metres for the lido itself and a further 148 square metres for a passageway ensuring public access to the shore. The project, funded by Fortel Service Ltd, is set to cost €7 million.

In 2019, the owners of the Fortina hotel benefited from the lifting of restrictions on public land, allowing them to build shops and apartments on land previously reserved for tourism.

Other projects announced by Schembri include the squaring off of the Freeport’s Terminal 2 through further land reclamation, with the terminal set to expand by 176 metres on its northern wharf and 195 metres on its western wharf, for an increase of over 30,000 square metres. This will enable the Freeport to accommodate more ships over 400 metres in length and maintain its competitiveness in years to come, Schembri said.

The project is set to cost over €103.8 million and will be partly funded by the government through more than€25 million in state aid support. Through this agreement, the Freeport will no longer be permitted to install quay cranes in the quay closest to the Birżebbuġa residential area and ships docking at the Freeport will not be allowed to unload their wares at night, to reduce noise levels.

The Freeport expansion. Photo: DOIThe Freeport expansion. Photo: DOI

A third project involves the regeneration of the former Edible Oils factory site in Marsa, which will be transformed into an industrial and commercial complex including warehouses, office space, catering establishments, a daycare centre and shops.

The project is to be led by a consortium of three Maltese companies, including Burmarrad Commercials and TUM Invest Group. The project will cost €50 million in private investment.

The government’s concession on the land is currently set to expire in 2063, but will be extended for a further 24 years under this agreement, with the value of the land to be evaluated once its current concession expires.

A parliamentary resolution will be presented to remove two existing conditions on the current concession, one that states that part of the land can only be used as a chicken farm and another that prevents development on 220 square metres of the site.

The proposed redevelopment of the former Edible Oils factory. Photo: DOIThe proposed redevelopment of the former Edible Oils factory. Photo: DOI

The government will also be conceding a tract of land for the development of a Lidl supermarket on the site currently occupied by SMW Cortis in Żebbuġ. This land, consisting of the access road connecting Mdina Road and Attard Road for a total of 1,400 square metres, will be granted to Central Business Centre Ltd for 65 years.

The total footprint of the development is set to exceed 15,500 square metres, including 7,000 square metres of built land and 4,700 square metres of landscaping and open space.

Schembri said that the private sector’s investment in the project will exceed €173 million and generate over 441 new jobs over the next four years. None of the projects will take place on virgin or ODZ land, according to Schembri.

The site of the proposed Lidl supermarket in Żebbuġ. Photo: DOIThe site of the proposed Lidl supermarket in Żebbuġ. Photo: DOI

The controversial Żebbuġ Lidl supermarket was issued a permit following a request from the Planning Authority to reduce the take up of ODZ land, despite numerous objections from residents and the Żebbuġ council.

Three of the four projects have received full planning permits and works are set to begin shortly. 

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