Forty per cent of the footprint of developments in a zone earmarked for commercial projects in Ta’ Qali will have to be for open spaces, under fresh proposals for policy changes issued by the Planning Authority.

Details of the partial review of the Ta’ Qali Action Plan, which has been in the pipeline for two years, were divulged in a document issued for public consultation which runs until October 16.

Under this proposal, an existing industrial zone having an area of about 60,000sq metres, adjacent to the US Embassy complex, will be converted to a commercial zone.

This might incorporate supermarkets, medical clinics, educational facilities, offices, food and drink establishments as well as storage and distribution buildings. However, no new development will be permitted within an area which at present is used as a parking facility. 

Plans to rezone this area were first floated in late 2018, but no decision has yet been taken due to changes in the wake of the feedback received. This is the third time that the proposals have been issued for consultation.

In the latest version, the Planning Authority is saying that separate development applications will not be considered, presumably in reaction to criticism that the area could be developed in piecemeal fashion. 

While the maximum building height has been retained at 17.5 metres, the PA has introduced parameters regulating open spaces. The revised proposal says that within the area earmarked for commercial projects, only 60 per cent of the site may be developed.

The revised proposal has also dropped the idea of a ring-road around the commercial zone.

Moreover, developers will also have to cover the expenses to fund the construction of the necessary road and junction improvements through a mechanism based on the size of the site and length of the frontage overlooking any new road.

The final amount will be established by Transport Malta.

This expense is over and above a planning gain of €25 per square metre of new gross developable floorspace which shall go for the upgrading of the nearby recreational facilities at the National Park.

Last year, the Chamber of Architects criticised the second version of the plan, saying it seemed directed to appease a major private landowner rather than safeguarding the national interest.

Criticism had also been levelled on the entire concept of the review, as the chamber had said that out-of-town commercial centres were being abandoned in favour of inner-city urban facilities.

Instead, the Chamber had remarked the public would be better served if this area had to complement the national park and used for outdoor sport facilities.

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