‘Temporary’ Sliema car park reopens

The Regina car park in Sliema has reopened after being outfitted with a concrete surface. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The Regina car park in Sliema has reopened after being outfitted with a concrete surface. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

A Sliema car park, which closed down as its temporary permit could no longer be extended, has re-opened on a temporary basis, but this time with a full development permit.

However, the developer was ordered to lay a concrete surface to mitigate dust pollution in the wake of persistent complaints from the neighbourhood and the local council. Still, fears about pedestrian safety seem to remain.

Located in Tower Road, opposite the former Libyan embassy at Villa Drago, the car park opened in 2015 on the site of the former Regina Hotel. The hotel was demolished at the turn of the millennium to make way for a four-star property, but the project stalled, though a fresh development permit was issued in 2014.

In the meantime, the developer started using the site as a temporary car park through a fast-track application system known as a development notification order. The permit was renewed for another year until July 2017.

While the facility served to mitigate the acute shortage of parking in that part of Sliema, its dust fuelled numerous complaints from nearby residents. It transpired that a layer of gravel meant to level the ground had been crushed to fine dust by the vehicles using the facility. Consequently, on a windy day it was a source of dust pollution.

The entrance poses a safety hazard, as vehicles have to mount the pavement

Apart from this issue, which was also raised by the Sliema council, concerns were expressed that the parking entrance posed a safety hazard for the pedestrians in Tower Road, as vehicles had to mount the pavement to park.

For this reason, the council called for proper signage to warn passers-by and motorists of the car park entrance.

In June 2016, when this newspaper flagged the complaints, a Planning Authority spokesman said the applicant was not obliged to pave the area properly because he had been instructed to restore it to its original state when the permit expired.

It was also pointed out that the development notification order, which was set to expire in July 2017, could no longer be renewed. The only way in which the facility could remain open would be by filing a full development permit under the new regulations enacted in 2016.

In line with the development notification order, the car park closed down last July and the developer filed a development application. The intention was for “temporary use of site as car park in the interim period until civil works commence on site in relation to the valid full development permit one site”.

The local council was among the objectors to the dust pollution and lack of a proper junction and signage for pedestrians using the Tower Road pavement.

From the case officer’s report, it transpired the developer had bound himself to surface the area with concrete to mitigate dust. While there was no mention of the issues related to pedestrian safety, the officer recommended the application for approval. Consequently, the Planning Authority granted a three-year permit on the condition that the parking area be adequately surfaced, drained and all parking slots clearly marked.

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