Photography by Joanna Demarco
Crowds gathered this morning in protest against increasing development in Sliema. The protest, themed Sliema Under Siege, appealed to authorities to temper the amount of development in the locale.
Paul Radmilli from the Sliema Local Council said:
"This problem has been happening for a long time. In the last 40 years construction has not been sustainable or in the best interest of the citizens. Development must be sustainable. 177 units have been put on 72 sites that have been decided or put into pending in three weeks throughout October. Only 3 have been refused."
The demonstration was organised by environmental NGO Flimkien Għal Ambient Aħjar, and supported by the Sliema Local Council.
"In the last 40 years construction has not been sustainable or in the best interest of the citizens"Paul Radmilli
Architect Edward Said spoke about the damage and lack of protection to historic buildings in Sliema:
"It is Malta's architectural beauty that we have to offer the world. Sliema as it was originally conceived could have not been a better balance of uniformity. It still boasts the broadest architectural variety on the Maltese islands. Endangered buildings – part of our national identity 1960s onwards – saw rapid destruction of this harmony."
"They used to be protected, preserved and restored. Today the situation has changed, and if all applications at this rate are approved 2017 will be a terrible year."
Said encouraged the crowds to take action into their own hands:
"What you can do yourself is send a letter to planning authority and superintendent of cultural heritage."
"let these mistakes be a lesson, there's [still] a lot to protect"Edward Said
Despite the motivation of the protest, the crowd was encouraged to stay positive and celebrate the architectural merit that still exists:
"Thursday 6pm Sliema [we'll hold] an architectural celebration. Let us celebrate the Sliema that we have. It is true that there are mistakes but let these mistakes be a lesson, there's a lot to protect." Said argued.
"We still have villages. We must fight to save these places with regard to heritage primarily. Our heritage is what we have to offer the world and we have to fight for this."