A small group of Gżira residents have made a last-ditch appeal for changes to the Manoel Island mega-development masterplan, which they say will eliminate a large part of the town’s promenade.

In a statement, the new pressure group Inħobbu l-Gżira said the plan in its current form would transform a large part of the popular seaside promenade into an access road or bridge to Manoel Island.

“The popularity of the promenade especially in summer cannot be overemphasized,” the group said. 

“Families from Gzira and from further afield enjoy the seaside atmosphere making use of the public benches to relax from the heat of the day and to enjoy the cool breeze from over the water. A large part of Gzira promenade is proposed for elimination. Forty percent of the public benches will be lost.”

The group also warned that views across Marsamxett Harbour would be lost as two “enormous” apartment blocks would be built on reclaimed land right opposite Triq ix-Xatt. It said Gżira was already lacking in public open spaces for its residents.

A spokesman for the group told Times of Malta several residents felt public consultation on the project had been insufficient, and that the only social impact assessment - a survey of passers-by at Manoel Island - had been inadequate for such a major development.

The Planning Authority board put off a decision on the development on December 20, citing a lack of information on building heights and other aspects of the project.

The plans - including an extensive residential and commercial complex on Manoel Island, including a hotel and casino at the historic Lazaretto, apartment blocks, retail outlets, yacht marina, streets and plazas - are recommended for approval, with a final decision expected in the coming weeks.