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DCC approves first public rooftop garden

The site of the development at Marsascala.

The site of the development at Marsascala.

Mepa has given the final go-ahead for the construction of an apartment block with a rooftop public garden in Marsascala - the first of its kind in Malta.

Approval was given by Development Control Commission A this morning after the developer submitted fresh plans with minor amendments to improve access to the garden.

The DCC chairman insisted that she was not going to allow any fresh discussion on the project and asked the board members to immediately cast their vote. The project was approved unanimously.

Architect Carmel Caccopardo, who was representing neighbours, was not allowed to raise questions on who would be responsible for the maintenance and safety of the public garden, given that Marsascala local council had never commented on this project.

At its last meeting on July 20, the DCC had accepted a request by Marsascala residents for water tanks, satellite dishes, solar heaters photovoltaic panels and air conditioning units not to be placed in the public area of the roof of the apartment block.

The project will consist of 29 apartments at the site formerly known as the Etvan Hotel gardens. The garden will be accessible through a ramp from a road behind the apartments.

Residents had, since 1993, been petitioning for the site to be retained as a green area, but the 2006 local plan established that the site could be developed as long as a public garden was built on the roof. An outline permit was granted in 2009.

Residents who attended this morning's meeting insisted with reporters that the garden should remain public since they were concerned that in the future it would be closed off with gates. Astrid Vella, coordinator of NGO Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar insisted that the DCC board should have given more importance to safety issues. "In approving this permit Mepa showed it did not care enough for the safety of residents, especially children who will be playing in a garden that is three storeys above ground." she said. The safety standards, she said, fell far short of the standards laid down by the Malta Standards Authority even for street level public gardens.

She shared concerns by neighbours about the dangers posed by the shafts of the apartments to people on the roof garden.

Ms Vella regretted that further discussion was not allowed, despite requests by objectors of the project who had requested a safety risk assessment. Their request was not acted upon.

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