Start / Finish Dates: July 2014 – October 2016
Adi Associates was commissioned to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), a Traffic Access Study, and a Traffic Impact Statement (TIS) for the construction of a high-rise commercial complex on the edge of the Mrieħel Industrial Estate. The project involved the construction of four towers, comprising 14, 15, 17, and 19 storeys, respectively, organised around a central piazza, and sitting on top of five basement levels, providing for a range of commercial and leisure uses, primarily offices and support facilities, including conference facilities, retail, food outlets, a supermarket, a gymnasium, and a day care centre. Parking was to be provided at basement level.
The Environmental Planning Statement (EPS) identified significant negative environmental impacts on landscape character and visual amenity in respect of the rural landscape and views from south of the industrial estate; these resulting from the introduction of a large development contributing to the dense effect that the existing urban conurbation already exhibits in this area and the interruption of the existing, relatively uniform height of the buildings in the backdrop as viewed from the south. Significant negative environmental impacts were also identified on geological resources, from the excavation required to accommodate the development.
The EPS identified a number of mitigation measures to address the identified significant negative environmental impacts.
The Traffic Access Study was undertaken prior to the TIS to assess the current situation at the junctions that provide access to the L-Imrieħel Industrial Estate from the south and to determined whether the key junctions can handle future traffic, including that generated by the proposed development. The study concluded that modifications are required at the key junctions to improve safety and capacity, and an alternative option into the Industrial Estate is required.
The subsequent TIS presented two design options for a new grade separated junction into the Industrial Estate. These were assessed and a preferred design identified. The TIS also looked into road safety of the surrounding roads and made a number of recommendations. Modifications, as a result of swept path analyses, were also made to the accesses to the car park and un/loading area, as well as to the internal circulation layout. The TIS noted that although the parking provision meets the required standards, the demand is likely to exceed the supply. For this reason, a number of sustainable transport measures were introduced that included dedicated parking for car sharing, bicycle racks, showers and changing facilities.
The TIS highly recommended that public transport access to the Industrial Estate is significantly improved and suggested locations for bus stops and a potential public transport route within the Estate.
Following the granting of a planning permit in August 2016, Transport Malta requested that a Green Transport Plan (GTP) is prepared for the development. The aim of the GTP is to reduce the impact of traffic generated by the development and sets out a long-term strategy to reduce the workers’ and visitors’ dependence on private cars for their journey to work.
The GTP put forward a set of desirable outcomes, delivered through a package of measures tailored towards the future travel needs of staff and visitors to / from the site. These included measures in relation to public transport, walking and cycling, car sharing, and collective transport provision. The developer committed towards an annual financial allocation towards the implementation of the plan. A person needs to be identified to oversee the implementation of the plan, and monitoring needs to be undertaken to maintain and improve the GTP.
Keywords: Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Planning Statement, high-rise development, Traffic Access Study, Traffic Impact Statement, Green Transport Plan