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Five years into a review, still no sign of new local development plans

No end in sight for process which began in 2013

Opposition MP Chris Said told the House this week “existing local plans are now outdated... we need new plans suitable to today’s needs and realities”. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Opposition MP Chris Said told the House this week “existing local plans are now outdated... we need new plans suitable to today’s needs and realities”. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

No timeframe has been given yet again for the publication of new local plans to guide development around the country, five years after the start of a review process. 

Planning Minister Ian Borg remained noncommittal when asked by Nationalist MP Chris Said in Parliament on Monday what stage the process had reached and if the revised plans would be completed this year. 

“The process is ongoing and there is now a focus on a number of issues of more strategic nature that require the gathering of more information and evaluation of various options,” Dr Borg said, offering no further details.

The revision of the seven existing local plans, dating back to 2006, began in July 2013 and was initially planned to be completed by the end of the following year. However, it was repeatedly delayed and the Planning Authority said early last year no target date had been set for its conclusion.

Dr Said told the Times of Malta the minister’s response to his question indicated that the review had “all but stalled”.

There is now a focus on a number of issues of more strategic nature

“The existing local plans are now outdated. We need new plans suitable to today’s needs and realities, particularly in terms of open space and environmental protection,” he said.

While the revised plans – which will tweak development zone boundaries and set new building heights and land-use parameters for towns and villages around the Maltese islands – have lain in limbo, the PA has embarked upon several partial revisions of the existing plans for specific areas.

The Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers last year criticised the PA for the way areas of Malta and Gozo had been chosen for this partial review of local plans, insisting the “piecemeal approach” could not foster good planning.

“Instead of having a national strategy for planning, the Planning Authority seems to be taking different approaches to different areas in the country, and it is not clear what criteria are being considered to determine the ap-proach for each locality,” the chamber said.

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