Fort Cambridge and its environs

GAP Developments plc's latest project, Fort Cambridge, "has won the accolades" in the first Russian Home Overseas Property Awards, we are informed.

Without going into the merits of the design since I often admire a piece of architecture but totally disagree with its location and context, it is in fact the latter which alienates me to this project.

The Fort Cambridge project started off on a wrong foot while still on the drawing board, incensing the local residents' associations when the Malta Environment and Planning Authority issued permits for the development, dismissing the need for an Environment Impact Assement to be carried out. This was followed by further uproar from the Sliema Local Council, several environment NGOs and some political parties. At this point the NGO Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) contacted the EU which, on reviewing the case, ruled that an EIA had to be carried out, which forced MEPA to stand down from its previous position and ask the developer to conduct the EIA. The experts were paid out of the developer's pocket of course, and the green light given in a record couple of weeks; at which point the EU washed its hands of the issue.

An EIA is a study of a project's impact on the area both while under construction and during its operation, in terms of traffic flow, air pollution, vibrations, utility services, and construction methods; all required to protect the residents' quality of living, and thus ultimately safeguarding the value of the already existing properties in the neighbourhood.

If building regulations aren't upheld, this means a loss of faith in the planning process, which in turn means you can buy a property but you can't protect your investment from any projects which are in breach of regulations, which means as a resident you can't plan your future and as an investor you never know what the annual return on your investment will be given the disruption and deterioration each project brings along.

And that, at the end of the day, is the wrong way to mantain a healthy and prosperous
real estate market.


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