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Smart City developers revise complex... and circumvent limitations

Master plan would drastically increase height limitation and rezone areas

Smart City development ‘is proceeding at a much slower rate than was envisaged’.

Smart City development ‘is proceeding at a much slower rate than was envisaged’.

The Smart City developers have shifted building space from one part of the project to another to allow the major Shoreline development to move forward without awaiting proposed changes to the master plan.

The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Shoreline project, a residential and commercial complex over 12 floors, reveals that the development’s floor-space by far exceeds the parameters of the Smart City master plan. 

However, according to the EIA report, Smart City Malta agreed to transfer an additional 35,000 square metres of development space from other parts of the wider project to the Shoreline site, circumventing these limitations.

Apart from the Shoreline application, the Planning Authority is currently considering proposed changes to the Smart City master plan approved in 2008, which would drastically increase the height limitation and rezone certain areas for residential development.

This prompted fears that the move would open the doors for high-rise real estate development in what was originally planned as an ICT and media city, with the Malta Developers Association calling for the changes not to be approved unless the cost of land was increased substantially to match current market prices.

However, the transfer of residential and commercial space to the Shoreline site now means that the project could be considered irrespective of any changes to the master plan.

Read: Smart City: no permits as flats go on sale

Times of Malta reported in June 2017 that estate agents had begun to market the 411 luxury apartments despite no permits yet having been issued by the PA.

The EIA report for the development, published by the Environment and Resources Authority for public consultation, also highlights major negative impacts resulting from plans to excavate down to sea level. Some 230,000 cubic metres of rock will have to be excavated and shifted to accommodate the planned three levels of underground parking.

The visual impact is expected to be major from viewpoints in Xgħajra and the Sliema promenade, while the project will not be visible from viewpoints such as the Gardjola in Senglea or Triq il-Missjoni Taljana in Kalkara.

Traffic in Kalkara is expected to increase by an average 1,350 car trips a day – compared to the current daily average of 3,978.

The entire Smart City development, once built, will raise this number to 22,151.

However, the report states that the assumption that the whole Smart City footprint will be developed “is unlikely to be the case as the development of Smart City is proceeding at a much slower rate than was envisaged”.

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