Naturally, all towns, villages, and settlements grow as the population grows in any developing society which is going through an economic boom or where societies traditionally have large families and thus create a population boom.
In Malta, during the past 10 years, we have experienced a sudden economic boom and withstanding all storms of the 2009 depression, the economy still grew. The economy grows automatically and it is expected that towns grow. The problem is limited land when it comes to Malta and the situation always comes back to how responsible our planning authorities are and that economic growth and urban development is balanced out. The tricky question is: how can I guarantee jobs and the building of businesses without jeopardizing natural or green space?
Here are some practical solutions: First of all designate central areas like Hamrun, Birkirkara, Naxxar etc. with commercial permits replacing long abandoned buildings without compromising the urban heritage. The Daniels Shopping Complex in Hamrun is a prime example of a modern shopping mall – and the jobs that come with it in an urban area that has helped revive Hamrun centre as well as not comprising the traditional Maltese town too much. And this can be repeated in many central areas in Malta where SMEs and retail outlets can open within reach of a growing market of consumers. Showrooms and larger commercial buildings should also be encouraged in central areas of the larger towns in Malta to revive the urban centres. If one looks at traditional European towns; you will find modern shopping centres and shops with facades of Baroque and Gothic nature. Such development should welcome also public and private initiatives for Multi Car Parks as well as better routes for buses to carry shoppers around.
Secondly, housing should meet all healthy and safety standards and skylines protected as not to obstruct views and protect the unique Maltese urban skyline. Green parks, playgrounds and tree lined pavements or central strips should be obligatory in every neighbourhood with proper lighting such as LEDs and road infrastructure that meets international standards. Social housing and subsidized homes should also be provided and redeveloped, replacing derelict areas. New developments – public and private should ensure underground park AND green rooftop policies and where possible space for solar panels. Such initiatives can greatly improve residents’ well being in the long run.
Thirdly and where possible, create green belts – that can protect valleys, agricultural land between towns, basically allowing a breather between town and town.
‘Once again, we from ADŻ welcome sustainable, affordable development, the protection of ODZ areas as well as urban heritage while not comprising economic growth.
ADŻ Malta Green Youth PRO