PA set to give thumbs up to outline plans for three-block Skyparks 2 near MIA

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March, 2024 at 9:22 am by Andre Camilleri

The Planning Authority is set to give a thumbs up to outline plans for a three-block Skyparks 2 complex near the Malta International Airport, as the Planning Board meets on Thursday to discuss the application.

Skyparks 2 is a development which had initially been envisaged in the masterplan for the Malta International Airport which was filed in 2010 and subsequently approved in 2018, but the plans under consideration later this week see the development being split into three separate blocks rather than the initially envisaged two.

The application is for an Outline Development Permission. This is an approval in principle of the full development subject to a number of reserved matters which would need to be included in a full development permit application, which would have to be filed by the applicant anyway. An outline development permit would override any future policy which might conflict with the project.

The plans show that two of the blocks will include offices together with retail outlets, while the third will be set out for a 96-room, four-star hotel.

The proposal also includes the formation of a public piazza and extensively landscaped areas linking the ground floor levels of the three blocks with an underlying three floors of basement which accommodate parking, servicing and plant areas, and ancillary facilities to the hotel.

The proposal further includes a shifted position of access points on Triq l-Ewwel Titjira and Vjal l-Avjazzjoni.

The blocks will have a lower height than the two blocks which had been approved in the master plan.

The first office block – Block B1 as it has been listed on the plans – will have a footprint of 2,508 square metres and rise to seven to eight storeys with a height of 35.5 metres.  The second office block – Block B2 – will have a smaller footprint of 1,240 square metres but will still rise to seven to eight storeys with a height of 39 metres.

The third block – Block B3, which will house the hotel – is projected to have a footprint of 695 square metres, but to also be the highest of the trio, rising to nine to ten storeys with a height of 41.4 metres.

The total footprint which the project will take up is of 4,443 square metres – 157 square metres less than that footprint of the two blocks envisaged in the masterplan.  There will however be an increase of 6,170 square metres in the gross floor area of the new proposal when compared to the approved masterplan.

The Planning Authority’s case officer observed that the proposal in the application is “to create a continuous sloped roof profile over the three proposed blocks B1, B2 & B3,” with the lower end of the roof restrained by the maximum height allowed for the lower of the two blocks in the approved masterplan, and the maximum end of the roof restrained by the maximum height allowed for the higher of the block blocks in the approved masterplan.

A Traffic Impact Assessment of the project found that it would not significant change the number of trips generated when compared to the previous masterplan, and also noted that the new roads built around the development would handle any anticipated traffic growth up until 2031 and beyond.

The site of the development is located in an area of high archaeological sensitivity and within the 100 metre buffer zone intended to protect the Hal-Resqun Catabomb, and 84 metres away from the Bir Miftuh chapel, which is a scheduled Grade A building.

The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage noted that the proposed blocks will have a “significant negative visual impact” on views from the scheduled Bir Miftuh Chapel, but also took into consideration the fact that these views are already compromised by the current SkyParks building and by other works in the area.

The PA’s Design Advisory Committee had concerns on the “linear façade” overlooking the bypass, noting that this “might result in a large and completely flat elevation.”  However, since revised and more detailed drawings are to be submitted as part of the full development application, consultation with the DAC stopped there for now.

With all this in mind, the Planning Authority’s case officer recommended that the application be granted.

The PA’s Board is set to hear it and hand down its decision on Thursday.

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