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Architect defends designs of 'bare' Paola Square

Old trees had been causing damage to utility services and property

The architect in charge of the Paola Square revamp has come out in defence of his project after criticism over the removal of trees and the absence of adequate replacement, making the place look bare.

The Civil Society Network was among those who criticised the works, uploading then-and-now pictures of the square.

"In other European countries, urban planning prioritises green areas in towns and cities. But the senseless tree-massacre continues in our country where shade and fresh air are indispensable to make up for the air polluted by over construction and traffic. We present to you the new Paola square, totally ruined. Brutal," the network said. 

Christopher Mintoff in a reaction said it would have been the nicer and cheaper option to leave the existing ficus trees but unfortunately, that was not feasible. The trees had been planted without containment and were damaging paving, the road, a large underground reservoir, and a WW2 shelter.

They were also damaging underground infrastructure including water and waste-water pipes and power lines. 

Property owners were also reporting damage from the roots.

Furthermore, Ficus trees produced sappy spores which made the floor filthy - attracting insects and putting off pedestrians.

(The trees were actually removed in 2015 and 2016 and have now been replaced by saplings.) 

Mr Mintoff said pedestrians were being put off by the fact that Paola Square was essentially a roundabout, getting polluted from all around, and with dangerous access to and fro.

The somewhat clean slate given to the designers meant that they could remove the roundabout, and substantially reduce the impact of traffic in the area.

This meant a doubling of pedestrian space with much less idle pollution. All trees but one were relocated within Paola.

The new trees have large containers with root barriers which will mean they can grow without damaging the infrastructure.

Mr Mintoff said the porvido road is actually meant to be uncomfortable to drivers who exceed the 30km/hr speed limit in a built-up area. 'If it annoys you, slow down. That's the point.  This will reduce noise, pollution and danger in the area, he said. 

The €3 million project was launched in April 2015 and is reportedly in its concluding phase. Mr Mintoff said people should reserve judgement for some weeks. 

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