Cottonera residents love their cities and wouldn’t change anything

Spared from construction spree, 61% of Cottonera residents say they would not change anything in their locality

We’re happy here: Cottonera residents say they find peace and quiet in their villages
We’re happy here: Cottonera residents say they find peace and quiet in their villages

Spared from the Maltese construction boom, official statistics show that the people of the Three Cities do not regret seeing their locality untouched by new construction.

A survey carried out among residents of the Cottonera region shows that 61% said they would not change anything in their area, and that what they appreciated the most about their locality was the historical heritage and “the peace and quiet”.

The survey commissioned by the Cottonera Rehabilitation Committee was held to assess public attitudes in preparation for a strategy for the area. The committee is headed by Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield and the steering committee includes the participation of the Planning Authority.

Just 182 permits were issued by the PA for residential development in Cottonera in the last decade – amounting to just 1.2% of permits issued in the country as a whole. More than half of these (96) were mainly issued in Kalkara, mostly in the area near the waterfront or along the Triq Santu Rokku hamlet.

In the same period, 217 permits were issued for non-residential developments such as offices, retail shops and tourism accommodation, representing 2% of the total number of non-residential permits in Malta.

The figures suggest a low take-up for rehabilitation schemes for residences and the strategy document vaguely hints at encouraging more people to benefit from such schemes.

But residents seem to look at the bright side of life. For Birgu residents the two most positive aspects in their locality are the historical places and the clean environment, both mentioned by 18% of residents.

45% of Kalkara residents referred to the “quietness” of their locality while 20% referred to its “clean environment”. 28% of Bormla residents referred to the waterfront as the most positive aspect of living in their locality while in Senglea residents showed equal appreciation for the clean environment, historical places and living “in a quiet locality”.

The survey conclusions show that Cottonera residents would like “more open spaces, sports facilities and playing fields.” Residents, especially in Birgu, are more likely to complain about parking facilities while pollution from traffic is mentioned as the greatest problem in other Cottonera localities. The care for the elderly and health centres are among the services residents would like to see improved.

The strategy earmarks the dilapidated Fort Ricasoli as an opportunity site and a “catalyst for local level development” aimed at creating more employment opportunities. But no details are given on what kind of project will be proposed on this heritage site.

Other recommended projects include the restoration and opening of access to fortifications like the Cottonera and Santa Margerita Lines. A number of restoration and embellishment projects are also proposed which include the upgrading of Kalkara’s waterfront and a heritage trail spanning across the whole area. In Bormla the Santa Margerita green corridor will incorporate a play area, a garden and a kiosk.  Birgu’s regatta club will also be reconstructed.

The strategy also refers to the need for upgrading substandard housing in the area and the upgrading of common areas in housing estates. Surprisingly the strategy for Cottonera does not make a single reference to the American University of Malta project which was expected to revitalise the area.

On the other hand, Smart City in Kalkara is said “to have the potential to assume the role of an economic lynchpin for the area.”

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