The Battle of the High-rise in Malta
The surge in high-rise buildings in Malta has been felt significantly over the past few years, with little signs of stopping in the future. Little impact has been made by the continued protests over controversial projects which are deemed by some to ruin the country’s landscape and unique features.
A few examples of projects which have swept across the new headlines with a waterfall of opinions include the high-rise towers in Gzira, Mriehel, the DB and Corinthia projects. We have situations in Malta whereby developers still work on their projects when official permits are not yet in hand. A strong indication that the property industry has a strong influence on the country’s economic development.
If we look at the recent master plan for Paceville, one notices a significant number of different sites being allocated for high-rise developments, which includes the infamous Institute of Tourism Studies site. The argument in favour for these developments is to accommodate the increasingly growing demand of luxurious office and commercial spaces in pristine areas within Malta, due to the substantial international businesses setting up shop in Malta and to cater for the current growth. The downside of this development is that it will increase traffic, the car trips from one area to another and will require no small amount of parking spaces. This highlights the need for infrastructural investment to accommodate a large number of people coming to Malta.
This is not solely applicable to the main centres such as Sliema and St. Julian’s since other high-rise towers are being proposed in less popular areas such as Mriehel. The approval for high-rise towers which was appealed, is committed to improving the value of the area.
Although many complain of these high-rise towers which some may deem unattractive in comparison to Malta’s landscape, there are those who argue that it is the only way to accommodate the influx of people without developing virgin land. Concerns have been raised by a number of residents, most particularly in the central areas where increased development and tower cranes everywhere you look seem to have become the norm. Other environmental groups have called for a stall until a long-term national plan is put forward.
Another development which seems to be gaining pace is the re-development of existing sites, from a commercial centre into a block of apartments for example. This can be seen by the Fortina project which from a hotel is being converted into apartments. The same seems to be a possibility for the Embassy shopping centre where recent news has reported that a property development project could be on the cards.
High-rise buildings are the trend in Malta and this will undoubtedly impact the future development of the county. What do you think will be the long-term impact?