Proposed extension to one of Mriehel towers set to be decided this month

Proposed extension to one of Mriehel towers set to be decided this month

A proposed lateral extension of one of the Quad Business Malta highrise towers in Mriehel is set to be decided this month, on 30 August.

In August 2016, The Planning Authority approved a controversial application by Tumas and Gasan holdings, who intend to invest €70 million in the construction of four towers in Mrieħel. The towers will be centred around a piazza.

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Now however, an application has been filed for this extension to one of its towers, in addition to smaller amendments to other areas of the project, following the original application’s approval. The already approved total developable gross floor space stands at 46,586sqm. The total proposed developable gross floorspace above street level of the proposed development is now 50,977sqm excluding terraces and bridges, according to the case officer’s report.

“The proposal involves relatively minor changes to the configuration of the North, West and South towers and mainly affects the plan volume of the East Tower. Whilst all four towers remain with similar building heights as already approved, the proposal involves an additional site area of circa 1,200sqm to be developed into a terraced extension of the East Tower with buffer zones and landscaping along the adjacent third parties,” the case officer’s report reads.

The case officer notes that the extension of the East Tower is located behind the mass of the same tower when viewed from Mdina or Valletta. Thus, since the increase in area is located in the line of view from Mdina to Valletta, the proposed increase in mass will be hidden by the already approved mass of the East Tower, the report read. “All edges are rounded in plan to assist in minimising the impact of the mass of the building and the concept of permeability of the original project is maintained. The report concludes that the proposal does not change the introduced and established urban qualities and character appraisal of the approved development.”

The case officer notes that the update to the Environmental Planning Statement (EPS) provided an update with respect to visual amenity. Whilst the visual impact from the other viewpoints ranges from not significant to being of moderate significance, the impact on visual amenity is considered to be of major significance in relation to the view from Triq il- Hofor, to the southwest of the site, which however does not present any change from the original EPS carried out for the approved development. “The EPS concluded that no new significant environmental impacts are envisaged following the modifications and amendments to the development other than those already identified in the previous EPS.”

The case officer also noted that the Quad Towers are aiming for Platinum certification which would rank it among the top one percent of all LEED certified projects. “LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.”

“The Low Energy Techniques report confirms that the proposal is to be based on low energy systems and energy efficient building envelopes such that the following design criteria are to be taken into account during the design process. Insulating glass to reduce heat gains and losses, high efficiency lighting sources with automatic lighting control systems, external shading on building, insulation in exposed roofs, high efficiency ac units, demand controlled ventilation, rain water collection for reuse in irrigation systems and second class water systems, air-conditioning condensate recovery, grey water treatment plant system to be reused for flushing and irrigation, low flow water devices, heat recovery systems and modern inverter lift units with regenerative drives.”

The case officer has recommended that the project be approved, and the Planning Directorate recommended that, considering the scale and nature of the proposed development, a planning obligation is included to fund environmental and urban improvement projects, traffic management, green transport and similar projects in the locality of the site. As per standard procedure, a planning gain towards the planning gain fund is being considered for the proposed new commercial floorspace. The directorate recommends that a €231,550 planning gain be issued.

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