Siġġiewi residents protest over exaggerated development
Mayor says appeals for reduced development were turned down
Around 60 residents met on Dun Manwel Zammit Street in Siġġiewi this evening, protesting over planned social housing development which they believe will increase congestion and density issues in the area.
The public meeting was organised by the local council, which is calling for a decrease in the number of units, an increase of community facilities and open public spaces for recreation.
Mayor Alessia Psaila Zammit said that instead of listening to the residents' appeal, the authorities on Monday gave the green light for additional units and fewer underground parking spaces.
The housing block, overlooking fields and not far from the local primary school, will consist of 84 housing units.
Dr Psaila Zammit told those present, some of whom were carrying placards, that when she asked the authorities for open spaces within the site, she was told that there will be a road accessible by cars.
When she appealed for fewer units, she was told that had it been a private initiative, the development would have been even larger. Dr Psaila Zammit said this was not justifiable and the public authorities should lead by example.
She also noted that a few meters away from the ongoing development, planning notifications had already gone up announcing another social housing project.
Mayor Psaila Zammit said the council had invited all MPs, including Parliamentary Secretary responsible for housing Roderick Galdes, for tonight's public meeting.
Mr Galdes was not present for the meeting, and neither were the three Labour Siggiewi councillors out of the locality's total of seven.
Sliema councillor Michael Briguglio, who was invited for the meeting as a sociologist, meanwhile noted that such "massive" housing projects were a thing of the past, and authorities abroad were opting for social housing that was spread sporadically across villages and towns.
"When the government says it has a social conscience, this is all partisan talk. In the meantime we have rising rent prices that are not being tackled," he said, calling for social impact assessments specific to different localities.