MIDI plc has submitted a revised masterplan for the restoration and development of Manoel Island to the Planning Authority (PA) and a revised Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to the Environmental Resources Authority (ERA).
The revised masterplan contemplates that the footprint of the new buildings to be developed on Manoel Island will be scaled down from 26% to approximately 10% of the site area and the gross floor area of the new buildings will total 55,000sqm compared to the 95,000sqm as contemplated in the Deed of Emphyteusis entered into with Government (Deed).
The revised masterplan aims to create a more sustainable development, which boasts 192,000sqm of open spaces, of which 175,000sqm is public open space (equivalent to twenty-two football pitches). This represents an increase of approximately 20% when compared to the Deed and includes two significant open spaces, namely an 80,000sqm Glacis Park surrounding Fort Manoel and a 35,000sqm open space at the entrance of the Island.
MIDI CEO, Mark Portelli explained that, “the decision to revise the masterplan is a result of the site investigations carried out, during the last twenty-four months, under the supervision of an independent archaeologist approved by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH). The areas investigated were highlighted, in the Cultural Heritage Report which formed part of the original EIA, as archaeologically sensitive requiring further investigation. The investigations established that a large part of the site, which was previously earmarked for development, is of archaeological importance. This prompted us to draw up a new masterplan for Manoel Island.”
Apart from the reduction in the area to be developed the revised masterplan does not contemplate the reclamation of the sea area immediately in front of the Gzira promenade. Mr Portelli explained that “a decision was taken to eliminate the land reclamation, as contemplated in the Deed, in order to reduce the impact of the development on the marine environment and the Gzira community.”
The revised masterplan contemplates a complete overhaul of the existing yacht marina in order to provide safe berthing for yachts of varying size. However, protection will be provided by a floating breakwater thus mitigating the environmental impact associated with developing a solid breakwater. Furthermore, the existing slipway, which is situated on the north side of the Island and used by local enthusiasts, will be upgraded as part of the development.
The commercial component in the revised masterplan is sensitively designed around the Cattle Shed and the Customs House to complement the new public area which is being provided in the heart of the development.
In accordance with the provisions of the Deed, no efforts have been spared to ensure that all the heritage buildings will be restored and given a new lease of life, in particular the Lazzaretto which will be used for mixed use and hospitality purposes. The restoration of the heritage buildings will be undertaken at a cost estimated at more than €40 million, which includes the works already undertaken to restore Fort Manoel to its former glory.
Furthermore, MIDI will develop sports facilities which will revert back to Government for the benefit of the local community. The facilities include a full size football pitch for Gzira United FC and a Bocci Club.
Mr Portelli added that “The Manoel Island Foundation, which was set-up by the Gzira Local Council and MIDI, will continue to act as guardian in line with the Guardianship Deed, thus ensuring that the public interest is safeguarded at all times, in particular with respect to access to the foreshore, protection of the heritage buildings, the provision of public open spaces and building heights.”
In conclusion Mr Portelli said that “as a responsible developer MIDI will continue to work closely and transparently with all stakeholders, by listening, engaging, and providing updates throughout the project, thereby ensuring the delivery of significant benefits to the community for the long term.”
The revised masterplan provides a more sustainable solution for the development of Manoel Island as well as ensuring that significant public open spaces are provided for the enjoyment of the general public. The works include €40 million in the restoration of historical buildings and a total investment estimated in excess of €200 million.
The revised masterplan provides that:
Land Use - The footprint of the new development is reduced from 26% to approximately 10%.
New Development - The gross floor area of the new development totals circa 55,000sqm compared to circa 95,000sqm in the Deed.
Open Spaces - The open spaces, including the new 35,000sqm public open space, now totals 192,000sqm compared to 161,000sqm in the Deed. Out of this 175,000sqm is public open space.
Sports Facilities - Various sports facilities will be developed on Manoel Island including a full size football pitch for Gzira United FC and a bocci club.
Reclamation - The reduced masterplan does not contemplate any land reclamation compared to the 14,000sqm in the Deed.
Slipway - The current slipway on the north side of the island will be retained and upgraded.
Breakwater - Instead of the solid breakwater, MIDI will provide a floating breakwater to ensure that the marina can be operated as a sheltered yacht marina.
Yacht Marina - The south shore yacht marina will be significantly upgraded to provide a world class yacht marina catering for a mix of small and large yachts.
Traffic - The reduced masterplan will have less impact on the mainland traffic, as the proposed development will generate less traffic.
Vehicular Access - Manoel Island will be accessible by car, however parking will be located below ground, thus creating a largely pedestrianised car-free streetscape.
Foreshore - Access to the island and the foreshore will be preserved at all time for the enjoyment of the general public.
Glacis Park - MIDI will preserve, improve, and deliver an 80,000 sqm new green family park around Fort Manoel and a 35,000 sqm open space in the heart of the development, for the general public to enjoy.
Fort Manoel - Fort Manoel is destined to become a centre for culture and the arts, comprising galleries, museums, shops, restaurants and a parade ground for open air events, all with full public access, while the Chapel will also be used for community events, weddings and celebrations.
The Lazzaretto - The Lazzaretto, which has been adapted for various uses across the centuries, will be restored for mixed use and hospitality purposes.
Residential - The residential component of the development is concentrated at the western part of the island and will comprise of a series of low rise urban blocks with a gross floor area of 55,000sqm.
Retail - An animated retail offering is sensitively designed around the Island’s open public spaces. The development will not include a shopping mall.