Agricultural leases on 40,793 square metres of land lying outside development zones have been terminated to make way for the SmartCity@Malta project in Ricasoli.
On 14 June 2006, President Eddie Fenech Adami signed the termination of leases on two tracts of land, the size of five football pitches in the outskirts of Xghajra and Kalkara.
A spokesperson for the ministry for home affairs confirmed that the leases are being terminated in connection with the Smart City project.
A substantial part of the land lies between the existing industrial zone and an open space known as San Pietru along Saint Leonard Street.
The area is named after Saint Peter’s battery whose ruins are still found in the area.SmartCity@Malta is projected to be one of the largest ever private sector projects and foreign direct investment as well as the largest ever new source of knowledge-based jobs to be secured by Malta. The project is set to create more than 5,000 new jobs over a period of years.
According to Xghajra mayor Anthony Valvo most of the land in question is not currently used for agricultural purposes.
But Valvo told Business Today that the council has still not seen any plans for the new development.
“We had a cordial discussion with Austin Gatt’s ministry. They promised to give us an indication on the confines of the project in the coming days,” he said.
Valvo also expressed his concern that the planned Wied Ghammieq sewage treatment plant will have to be relocated to another site due to the new project.
“We do not think that the sewage plant will be located in the middle of Smart City. We hope that this will not be relocated nearer to residential areas,” he said.
The termination of agricultural leases before plans for the project are even made public could be an indication of the fast track approach taken by the government to approve the project.
Minister Austin Gatt has already indicated that he intends to fast track the application for Smart City through the Malta Environment and Planning Authority.
MEPA has already earmarked Ricasoli as one of the sites suitable for high rise development in a report published in May.