Valletta residents dread the day the newly-redeveloped Is-Suq tal-Belt opens its doors, insisting the over-commercialisation of the capital is already an issue with bars and restaurants “taking over”.
Residents who live close to the building located between Merchants Street and St Paul Street expressed concern that once the new place was up and running, they would have to deal with even more noise as restaurants and bars set up shop close by.
The residents, who did not wish to be named, said they were already forced to live with excessive noise emanating from beverage and catering establishments that remained open until the early hours of the morning, often blasting loud music throughout the night.
“We have had to put up with construction works at Is-Suq tal-Belt going on until three in the morning. We have now been told the works have been completed but that only means one thing: noise at night will only get worse,” one resident complained.
Noise at night will only get worse
The resident insisted that many of the bars and restaurants in the area placed tables and chairs outside even though they did not have the necessary permits to do so.
Noise, they added, was the order of the day.
The residents fear there is very little they can do, noting that the people affected were of a certain age and many often feared speaking out.
“We are at a loss because we do not have people to talk to and many of us fear speaking out because it’s such a small community,” one other worried resident said.
The residents also claim that the problem was scaring away those interested in moving to the capital, pointing out that many feared they would soon be unable to sell their house.
“The word that there are problems has spread and we live in fear that, one day, we would want to move out but will not be able to sell our houses. Many of the decisions about V18 [Valletta will be the European Capital of Culture in 2018] have been made and, yet, nobody thinks of us residents,” the resident said.
While the increase in the number of bars and restaurants is of concern, the residents argued that it would have been a different story had those running the establishments respected neighbours.
“We’re not saying that bars should not open but do they have to stay open until early in the morning? Everyone was only interested in maximising profits and could not care about anything else,” a resident whose house is close to a number of outlets said.
Mayor Alexiei Dingli said the noise problem had also emerged in the past. In fact, he pointed out, the council had been in contact with the new operators of Is-Suq tal-Belt to ensure noise would not be excessive.
Prof. Dingli urged Valletta people to come forward with any complaints. He pointed out that establishments which placed tables and chairs outdoors did not always have the necessary permit but for the council to act those with complaints had to come forward.
“The problem is enforcement and that is why it is pertinent that residents come forward with concerns so that we can pass on the complaints to the relevant authorities, as has always been done in the past,” Prof. Dingli said.
The refurbished market, transferred to Arkadia Ltd for 65 years, will feature a lower floor with several stalls preparing and selling food and a ground floor with catering establishments.
A multi-function floor at the top, which will have a cafeteria in morning, will transform into an entertainment space later in the day.