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Let government intervene to restore private dilapidated buildings, GHRC head pleads

Enemalta urged to stop demolition of Marsa power station

Lawmakers needed to explore ways how the government could intervene to restore historic dilapidated private properties, the chairman of the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, said today.

“Does it make sense to allow properties to deteriorate into eyesores in areas where millions are being spent on regeneration and restoration, such as in Valletta? While I would exclude expropriation, we need to find a solution how private owners would be compelled to look after their property within constitutional parameters,” Dr Zrinzo Azzopardi said.

He was speaking at a conference on regeneration, organised by the corporation.

Dr Zrinzo Azzopardi vented his frustration that in some instances, efforts to restore historic areas to their former glory were hindered by the fact that the government could not intervene as the buildings were private.

Another problem was that the authorities sometimes could not even identify the owners of dilapidated buildings, he said.

The conference was also addressed by Prof. Alex Torpiano, dean of the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of Malta, who gave a brief overview of the major initiatives taken since the early 1950s, including “slum clearance” projects that evolved into rehabilitation projects.

He focused his presentation on a proposal unveiled last year, in which a number of his students submitted a regeneration plan for Marsa for the year 2050.

Prof. Torpiano said that the regeneration of this area would not necessarily warrant a clean sweep of existing structures. and made one last call to save the Marsa power station from destruction.

He made yet another call for the Marsa power station to be saved from destruction.

“Why are we demolishing it? It is part of our industrial heritage,” he argued.

Ironically, his appeal was made at the same time as Enemalta issued footage of bulldozers and construction vehicles demolishing the plant.

Touching on the rehabilitation projects carried out in the last 30 years especially in Valletta, Prof. Torpiano pointed out that despite all the money spent, the population of the capital was still in decline. He said that no regeneration project could be successful unless part of a long-term vision spanned beyond a five-year legislature.

“It is much more challenging to restore communities rather than buildings,” he remarked.

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