Moviment Graffitti has lashed out at the Planning Authority accusing of it of accommodating a developer in drawing up a development brief for the former Jerma Palace Hotel site in Marsascala.

“Marsascala residents deserve a tourism development that is proportional to the size and infrastructure of the locality, not the destruction of their local lifestyle,” Moviment Graffitti said.

The call was made in submissions which the NGO made to the public consultation on this development brief.

It is clear that a development of this scale would not only impact negatively the infrastructure of Marsascala, but also the lives of residents, with little long-term benefit to the locality.- Moviment Graffitti

Following consultation with Marsascala residents, Moviment Graffitti said it submitted objections, as the brief "completely ignored the devastating effects of massive development on the community and the local environment".

The movement said it agreed with the demolition of the existing dilapidated building, which posed a hazard and had become an eyesore.

"It is clear that the development brief was drafted to accommodate applications already submitted to the Planning Authority," it said.

It criticised the brief on the grounds that it allowed non-touristic use of the land on which the Jerma was situated, reflecting an application submitted in 2018 for the development of a building of 15-storeys, which included a hotel, but also over 166 apartments and shops on the same site.

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Moviment Graffitti recalled that the land was granted by the government in the 1980s with the main purpose of fostering tourism in the south of Malta.

In its submissions, the NGO criticised the fact that the development brief encouraged massive development, at a time when experts in the tourism industry were recognizing that mass tourism was no longer the best economic or social model, and that the future of tourism lied in smaller and more discerning investments, which did not to interfere with the lives of residents.

“This is the exact opposite of what the development brief allows on the site of the former Jerma Palace as it commits 100,000sqm for development,” the statement read.

“It is clear that a development of this scale would not only impact negatively the infrastructure of Marsascala, but also the lives of residents, with little long-term benefit to the locality,” it warned.

It called on the government to forbid further developments of such large scale in view of what it described as a saturated market whereby little to no concern is being paid for those living next door.