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Townsquare objectors did not try to block permit, developers say

Developers say they have met residents' associations to clarify misconceptions

A render provided by developers of the project's final appearance.

A render provided by developers of the project's final appearance.

Townsquare skyscraper excavation works could begin as objectors had not sought to suspend the project permit when they had the chance to do so, project developers said this morning.

“We have been granted an executable permit and none of the objectors requested a suspension of this permit when they had a clear and legal opportunity to do so," a spokesman for developers of the €100 million Qui-si-Sana project, said. 

"Therefore, there is no way that starting excavation now impedes a fair hearing."

INTERVIEW: We chose to go up rather than across, says Townsquare developer

The Townsquare high-rise will feature 159 residential units, more than 4,500 square metres of offices, some 8,000 square metres of commercial space and around 750 parking spaces as well as the restoration of Villa Drago.

The project was approved by the Planning Authority in August 2016 by a single vote, during a hearing which environmental regulator Victor Axiaq missed, citing health reasons.

Excavation works

Developers had announced their intention to start excavation works two weeks ago, prompting criticism that they were preempting an appeals process that has yet to be concluded by the PA.

Objectors to the project, which include Sliema Local Council and NGO Din L-Art Ħelwa, say the 38-storey tower will choke the area of sunlight and parking and have a detrimental effect on the local skyline.

Their appeal highlights what they say were a series of shortcomings in the PA's process of approving the project application.

READ: ERA chairman denies conflict of interest in Townsquare project

Developers have rebuffed those criticisms and today argued that there was no way of knowing whether the appeal would be concluded by November, as some have suggested, saying this was "pure conjecture, since the timeframe could be further extended for another six months or even longer if the matter goes to court".

In their statement, Townsquare developers said they met the Qui-Si-Sana and Tigne' residents associations to brief them on mitigation measures being taken during the project's construction phase, which is expected to take more than four years. Excavation works are expected to take 10 months.

During the meeting, which followed a similar one with Sliema mayor Anthony Chircop, developers reassured associations that more than 7,000 square metres of the 12,000 metre plot would be dedicated to open spaces open to the public, as promised.

“The open spaces are dictated by PA permit and these have neither shrunk nor increased,” a spokesman for the developers said.

Contractors carrying out works would not be using noisy pneumatic drills and trucks exiting the site would be washed down to prevent dust clouds, developers have also said.

A spokesman for the project developers said they welcomed open dialogue and were very conscious of their responsibility to the Sliema community.

"We hope, however, that dialogue takes place on the basis of facts," they added.

Residents with queries about the project can visit the project office on Tigné Street or contact a specially set-up helpline on 2789 6034 or 2133 1560.

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