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Naxxar residents fear mega-development will lead to traffic nightmare

Local council objects to project for old Trade Fair grounds

The Naxxar trade fair grounds. Photo: matthew mirabelli

The Naxxar trade fair grounds. Photo: matthew mirabelli

Naxxar local council has warned that a massive proposed development at the old Trade Fair grounds will not provide enough parking and would bring a “huge amount of additional traffic”.

Developers have applied to build an extensive commercial and residential complex, comprising 490 apartments, 5,000 square metres of offices and 3,000 square metres of retail outlets spread over 49 blocks.

Most of the blocks are between two and five storeys high but a handful will rise to seven floors and penthouse, significantly higher than permitted by the height limitation policy.

In an objection to the Planning Authority, the local council said the 1,130 parking spaces included in the plans were insufficient to cater for the expected number of residents while the development itself would eat away at residents’ existing spaces.

The council insisted that the blocks should all conform to the height limitation policy, arguing that if taller buildings were allowed, residents would suffer and have natural sunlight blocked, apart from a negative impact on existing and future solar panel use.

Stressing that it was not against the development in principle, the council also raised concerns about the potential strain on existing electricity, water and drainage services from the massive influx of residents as well as the need for more recreational areas.

“As presented, the project does not provide enough of such areas and the only area proposed is an existing one which the residents are already benefitting from. Use of the existing football ground will also be lost,” the council said, adding that the project should include play areas for children.

Project architect Ray Demicoli addressed a public meeting in Naxxar on Tuesday evening to present the concept for the project, evoking the “spirit of a Maltese village”.

At the meeting, residents raised further concerns about building heights, open spaces and traffic.

No traffic impact assessment was carried out for the project, which has been highlighted as a cause for concern by residents and the council. Several residents submitted their own objections to the PA yesterday morning.

“Residents will, no doubt, agree that rush hour is increasingly becoming a major cause of stress and anger,” one wrote.

“This will, no doubt, render the traffic situation in Naxxar and San Pawl tat-Tarġa completely uncontrollable.”

Others expressed concern that the taller blocks and overall scale of the project would negatively affect the urban character of the town, dwarfing surrounding buildings.

The Naxxar site was the home of the annual trade fair for 50 years until 2007 and has housed the election counting hall since.

It was earmarked in the 2006 local plan for “high-quality residential development”, a local centre and underground car park, with the central walkway retained and upgraded.

The policy states that the development should consist “of small built volumes with inter-connected, well-landscaped terraces and passageways that will, in time, soften the mass of the blocks”.

The new plans for the site include several changes from a previous application for a similar development at the trade fair grounds, which envisioned 24 blocks including two eight storey-high towers.

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