The Planning Authority has approved a plan for the development of a luxury village on Manoel Island.
During a meeting this morning, the planning board overwhelmingly backed MIDI’s proposed project – with 13 votes in favour and only one, by NGO representative Annick Bonello, against.
Labour MP Clayton Bartolo, PN MP Marthese Portelli and a representative of the Gżira local council all voted in favour.
Critics of the project have warned it will ruin the Gżira promenade and remove parking spaces and ultimately add another construction site to a town which is already overrun by development.
Borg Manche said that he would personally like to see Manoel Island turned into a park but that critics of the project are spreading false hope.
“It’s important to note that MIDI has a right to build and it’s false to state that the government can rescind the contract,” he said in an interview with Lovin Malta.
“When I was interviewed in 2016, I said that I would like to turn Manoel Island into a park. Of course I would. I live there, I used to go there everyday as a kid and I know what value it has to the people of Gżira and all Malta. That was my opinion but obviously this is not about my opinion or anyone’s opinion and one has to see the facts.”
This proposed project goes back to the 1990s when MIDI was given a concession for the development of both Manoel Island and Tigne Point. A permit for the development of Manoel Island was issued in 1999 and this impending development is enshrined in the Maltese local plans. MIDI has so far focused on the development of Tigne but has now turned its eyes to Manoel Island, with the concession stipulating that it must complete the entire project by 2023.
However, Borg Manche and environmental lawyer Clarie Bonello last year set up the Manoel Island Foundation to scrutinise the development.
While the revised masterplan includes 600 residence units, 100 more than were envisaged in the original deal, it also comes along with a number of concessions won by the Manoel Island Foundation.
MIDI has committed itself to setting up designated swimming zones, ensuring no commercial activity in the public park and foreshore and limiting the maximum building height from a maximum of five to four storeys. Notably, Fort Manoel will not be converted into a hotel as had originally been planned, but rather a cultural centre. The foundation has a legal right to sue MIDI if the latter breaches this contract.