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Pembroke residents, activists march in opposition to project at ITS site

'We don't want this monstrosity'

Video: Mark Zammit Cordina

Hundreds of Pembroke residents and activists marched in opposition to the proposed mega-development at the Institute of Tourism Studies site, calling on developers not to bury them alive.

Residents bore banners reading “We say no” and a large black cloth representing the shadows the project will cast, as they walked through Pembroke to the ITS site chanting “We don’t want this monstrosity”.

Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaPhoto: Mark Zammit Cordina

Protestors highlighted concerns including the thousands of additional car trips the project will generate, noise and dust during the construction period, overshadowing from the proposed 37-storey residential tower, and the consequences of extending intensive commercial activity from Paceville into a quiet residential community.

“People who live here have sacrificed and invested to live a decent life, not to live in luxury but to live with dignity,” one resident told those gathered, accusing developers db Group, owned by hotelier Silvio Debono, of a lack of respect for the community.

“Our children will be condemned to live barricaded in their homes because of your obscene project. Elderly residents will see the tranquility they have worked for destroyed before their eyes.”

Watch: 'Phantom tunnel' scepticism as Pembroke residents meet ITS site developers

The €300 million City Centre project – which has since inception been embroiled in major controversy over the €60 million developers db Group paid for the public land – will include a 37-storey tower, a 17-storey Hard Rock Hotel, a casino and shopping mall.

The Pembroke council has said it will leave an “unsavoury impact” on its visual surroundings and the social fabric of the town, rendering the locality an “appendix” to the massive development.

It has called for the project to be downscaled, highlighting the “obvious incompatibility of the design with the surrounding land use, in terms of skyline, massing, density and proximity to residents”.

The protest was supported by NGOs including Moviment Graffitti, Kamp EmerEmerġenza Ambjent, Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Nature Trust, and Friends of the Earth, as well as the local councils of surrounding towns. 

Also among the crowd were PN MPs Simon Busuttil and Karol Aquilina, Partit Demokratiku MP Godfrey Farrugia and deputy leader Timothy Alden, and former Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Arnold Cassola.

The protest follows a fiery meeting between the developers and the public on Monday, when residents expressed frustration at promises that traffic issues would be alleviated by a new tunnel across Triq il-Mediterran, despite there currently being no plans for such a tunnel.

The project is currently still pending before the Planning Authority, with more than a thousand objections already having been submitted ahead of the close of public consultation on May 25.

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