Planning Authority proposals to turn an area near the US embassy at Ta’ Qali into a commercial area appear to be directed more towards appeasing a major private landowner than achieving any planning gains or safeguarding the national interest, the Chamber of Architects said on Wednesday.

The PA in September announced a review of the 60,000-square metre area, currently an industrial zone. It proposed to allow the site to be used only for  supermarkets, medical clinics, educational facilities, offices, retail outlets, storage/distribution facilities and food and drink outlets.

The Chamber said that across the developed world, out-of-town commercial centres are largely being abandoned in favour of rehabilitated inner-city or urban facilities, reducing vehicular traffic and the attendant pollution and traffic congestion.

It suggested that the area at Ta' Qali should be re-developed into uses that are complementary to the sports facilities around the National Stadium and the adjacent Family Park.

"The emphasis on commercial development is therefore questioned in this regard, as is the extent to which the public interest and that of the environment in general were considered,” it said. 

"The proposed revision is premature and lacking in proper studies that would normally arise in a serious and well-considered approach.

"Allowing intensification is not the solution to the Authority’s claim that the existing industrial use is redundant, and that the proposals appear to be directed more towards appeasing a major private landowner and facilitating their interests than achieving any planning gains or safeguarding the national interest and that of the public at large."

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