Vacant properties: a warning sign

“The number of vacant residential properties is a warning sign. With over 72,150 vacant residential units we cannot keep developing land which up till some time ago was outside the development zone.” This was stated by Carmel Cacopardo, Deputy Chairperson of AD-The Green Party when addressing a press conference in the environs of Tal-Mirakli, Attard on Local Plans and the rationalisation of development zones.

The press conference was held next to land which was declared as suitable for development as a result of the rationalistion exercise which the PN led government implemented in 2006. Up till then this land formed part of a green belt. On the 13 July 2013 MEPA issued a development permit such that it permitted the development of 24 garges and a store at basement level as well as 19 residential units on five floors (6 maisonettes, 9 flats and 4 penthouses).

Cacopardo added that “this is being done notwithstanding that 72,150 residential units in Malta are currently vacant. This is a substantial increase on the vacant residential properties in 2005 (53,136) as well as that in 1995 (35,723).”

“AD-The Green Party,” added Cacopardo, “disagrees that such land should be developed. Malta cannot sacrifice more land to build more residential units when the census carried out two years ago  identified 72,150 vacant residential units. There is no need to permit large scale residential development for many years to come. In the context of a local plan revision AD-The Green Party is of the opinion that there still is a slight possibility to remedy the situation. This can be done by striking off the rationalisation scheme such that the land so identified is no longer developable. The quantity of available vacant residential properties should be the primary criterion on which the new local plans are based.”

Ralph Cassar, Secretary General of AD-The Green Party and Green Attard Local Councillor, said that “the unbridled development together with the stock of vacant residential properties is the cause of unnecessary pressure on the infrastructure of localities. Attard is no exception. Funds which will be required to develop and maintain the infrastructure servicing the 72,150 vacant residential properties could have easily been utilised to service the existing infrastructure. The increase in the number of vacant properties,” concluded Cassar, “in addition to creating unacceptable environmental impacts, is also a waste of public funds.”

Arnold Cassola, AD Chairperson, concluded the press conference by stating that “the concession of two additional floors over the permissible heights for hotel development, the automatic renewal till March 2014 of development permits issued by MEPA since August 2006 together with the approval of unsustainable development  such as that at Zbibu Alley in San Gwann, MEPA on behalf of government is sending the message that it is not interested in safeguarding the rights of residents. It seems that now is payback time to the building industry for assisting the party which is now in government prior to the general election.”


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