Progress is being made on the new Government complex in Tas-Sisla’ Birkirkara, as 73 apartments in 6 blocks are being built, amidst an announcement about a new elderly home in Birkirkara. However, the Government is coming under fire for its decision to increase social housing by NGO Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar, and residents are unhappy regarding the spot chosen for the elderly home.
Minister for Tourism Konrad Mizzi and Parliamentary Secretary for Social Housing Roderick Galdes visited the area, which is between Triq il-Qanpiena and Triq Mons. Ġużeppi Camilleri. Konrad Mizzi gave a timeline for the works to be completed by early 2021, as by mid-2020 works regarding the building’s shell ought to be finished.
The project includes also 56 parking spaces and 400 metres squared of open space.
The Minister and Parliamentary Secretary thanked Birkirkara’s Local Council, SPML and Malita Investments plc who are financing and managing the sites, the Planning Authority and all stakeholders for their cooperation.
Konrad Mizzi also spoke about the elderly home announced to be built in Birkirkara.
Upon being told about the residents’ complaints regarding their quality of life being affected by such a development, Mizzi answered that every town needs to have services for everyone, and that this home will offer also a daycare centre.
Furthermore, the choice for it to be placed in an urban space has to do with the elderly’s mental health as it places them closer to the homes they’ve lived in all their lives.
Despite the fact that the application has not yet been approved by the Planning Authority, Mizzi stated that it is routine for the Government to announce initiatives before everything is approved, as otherwise, the media ends up picking up on initiatives from the Planning Authority website.
“The increasing demand for social housing is related to the unregulated building industry” – FAA
Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA), in a press release, stated that the need for social housing such as the complex in Birkirkara is directly related to the unregulated building industry.
The NGO stated that solving the social housing problem through the building of more Government units, creates several problems: more take-up of open areas, increased congestion, demolition of heritage buildings, more construction waste for over-full landfills and more pollution caused by construction.
It suggested that the Government should require that permits for the building of blocks of apartments should be accompanied by the allocation of a number of low-rent apartments in any new project. The press release went on to say that even the heart of capitalism, the United States, has many states which oblige developers of mega-projects to offer some of their apartments at a low cost.
Furthermore, FAA suggested that the State then recognises the landlords that may be shouldering part of the housing provision problem, and allow them tax deductions on their incomes. Controls would have to be in place to ensure that owners do not end up benefiting from the tax deductions while also charging high rentals.