Transport Malta has revived plans to build marina offices in the vicinity of a Gżira public garden. 

Last year the Transport Authority submitted a planning application to construct offices and commercial outlets within Ġnien il-Kunsill tal-Ewropa, a public garden and playground in Gżira, however this was withdrawn last November. 

In a new screening application, PA/00680/22, Transport Malta has revived these plans, proposing the same facilities as before in a new site along an access road that runs through Triq ix-Xatt, just outside the perimeter of Ġnien il-Kunsill tal-Ewropa. 

The application is seeking to build office space, a retail outlet and a food establishment with outdoor seating, as well as bathroom and shower facilities for marina berth holders. 

The entire site spans some 7213 square metres on the Gżira and Ta’ Xbiex coastline and will also reconfigure the parking area and sections of the promenade. 

Impact on sea views

While the proposed development is no longer located within the boundaries of the garden, the relocated site would nonetheless have an impact on sea views as well as views of Manoel Island, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage has noted. 

“The Superintendence notes with some concern that the marina office and its associated facilities together with the proposed fueling area create a very extensive development that is out of scale with the context,” the SCH said in its submission. 

“Furthermore, the location of the proposed development on the foreshore between the garden and the sea will inevitably impact on views on the garden towards the sea and towards Manoel Island.

The Superintendence would be favourable to mitigation of such inevitable impacts and would be pleased to review amended drawings addressing these issues.”

"This is a public open space, and one would think that with the emphasis on open spaces, this application should never have been conceived."- Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar

In a detailed objection sent to Times of Malta, eNGO Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar questioned why Transport Malta has elected to take up so much public space and build seemingly unrelated commercial outlets on the site. 

“The application is proposing taking over a portion of the public area that lies between the Council of Europe gardens and the quay that makes up the Gardens Marina Concession,” FAA said.

“This is a public open space, and one would think that with the emphasis on open spaces, this application should never have been conceived. Open space is defined as an area where one can feel space, can walk through and can see beyond a wall.

“The question arises as to why TM is applying for this permit in the first place, why is it so large and since when did TM apply for restaurants and retail outlets besides oversized office facilities? Why have they applied to build this monstrosity on this open public area?”

They added that Transport Malta’s proposal was beneficial to the few but detrimental to the general public, citing that it does not fall into the criteria covered by a number of planning policies that dictate how development should be carried out in the area. 

“The policies all point towards what should be an absolute rejection of this application, as should the government’s insistence on creating and enhancing open spaces,” the FAA said.

Last year, an application to convert part of the garden into a fuel station, in order to relocate an existing fuel station a few metres up the road, was approved by the Planning Authority. 

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