3 JULY 2002

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AD urges due consideration in Qawra high rise proposal

In the latest development in the controversy erupting over the proposed development of a 31-storey tower in Qawra, Alternattiva Demokratika yesterday called for various issues to be taken into consideration before a decision is taken on the project.

AD environment and health spokesperson, Mark Causon, explained, "So far Malta has very little experience of high rise buildings. Although they might seem to make sense from a land-use perspective, other factors should be taken into consideration.

"Aesthetically-speaking, Malta has nothing to gain from various high rise buildings scattered around the islands. Furthermore, one should seriously consider the possible attraction of a huge volume of traffic as well as the need for heavy infrastructural changes. Are the roads, drains water and electricity services up to such a development? Is the Civil Protection equipped to deal with fires on high rises? And who will pay for the major overhauls brought about by a high rise?"

Mark Causon added that the need to build high-rises is not imminent, given the country's housing situation.

"One out of every four dwellings is currently vacant in Malta. Therefore it is clear that there is no imminent need to construct high rises. What is needed is proper planning to ensure that dwellings are not left vacant. This can be carried out by means of a tax on vacant properties excluding summer residencies as well as a reform in Malta's rent law by means of which a proper rental market would be in place.

"This should take into account the interests of landlords, tenants and persons with low incomes. Unfortunately so far both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have not replied to Dr Harry Vassallo's proposal in favour of the creation of a national commission which would bring about a rent-law reform."

The AD spokesperson added that the development of high-rises should be tackled within a wider economic, social, environmental and infrastructural context in order that sustainable development would be given priority.


Copyright © Network Publications Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07, Malta
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