The Labour Party has pledged to convert five, large urban spaces into parks and gardens, in some cases redirecting traffic to underground tunnels and knocking down existing buildings to make space for green areas in the heart of some of the busiest towns.

The plan is to convert the Ħamrun milk factory in the Milend area into a large garden in the heart of the town, complete with underground parking. The factory would be moved to an industrial site, according to Miriam Dalli, Minister for Sustainable Development. 

St Anne's Street in Floriana would be turned into a garden, with traffic rerouted underground, and the same would happen in central San Ġwann, in front of the church, the PL told a news conference, the first of the 2022 electoral campaign. 

The idea of turning the street - the main artery in and out of Valletta - into a pedestrianised garden strip had been conceived in 2015 by four architects and had attracted major support. 

Santa Venera tunnels to be roofed

The Santa Venera Tunnels will finally be covered given a green roof and so will the Birkirkara aqueducts, Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia said.

In Gozo, the island's biggest car park situated next to the bus terminus in Victoria would go underground, making way for a new football pitch and public garden, which would link directly to the existing Villa Rundle Garden.

In Senglea, the car park which was until recently intended to become an AUM dormitory would also be turned into a park. Car spaces will be rerouted underground.

Prime Minister Robert Abela, ministers Dalli and Farrugia elaborated on Sunday's promise that a Labour government will invest €700 million to create "a series of open, public spaces in every city and town.

"If the people trust me for my first mandate, we will begin implementing this plan from the day after the election," Abela said.

"The environment is our new priority."

Dalli and Farrugia said the newly proposed sites will join existing urban greening initiatives in Tal-Inwadar, Ta' Qali, Bengħijsa, Mqabba, Cospicua, Vittoriosa, Għar Lapsi, Wied iż-Żurrieq and Birżebbuġa.

Video: Chris Sant Fournier

The Labour Party promised new roads five years ago, and it delivered on those promises, they said, and now it is promising new public spaces, and it will deliver again.

In the run-up to the 2017 election, Joseph Muscat had promised that a Labour government would redo all of Malta's roads within seven years. Five years down the line, the country has seen some of the most rapid infrastructure progress, but with hundreds of roads still to be fixed, it is nowhere near fulfilling the promise within the next two years.

Replying to Times of Malta, Abela insisted the government did keep its promise to invest €100 million a year in road works and pledged he would deliver on the urban greening promise.

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