Midi, a development consortium from Malta, proposed a casino hotel and shopping complex for Manoel island. The consortium obtained a 99-year concession on this part of the island 17 years ago. Midi had a meeting with NGOs to introduce the proposal and final development plans. Even though the plans are not public yet, it’s been reported that Malta will host a hotel casino, along with retail outlets and luxury apartments. However, the proposal received negative feedback from several officials in Malta.
Gzira mayor Conrad Borg Manche referred to the plans as being completely unacceptable: “For the average citizen who is not shopping or gambling away money, there is very little being offered. The sea will be a mass of vessels so people cannot swim in the wake of the yachts of the rich. This is yet another community which caters for the elite and shuts out the citizen.”
Similarly, environment officer Tara Cassar said that the island would be turned into a large shopping complex with high-priced apartments and nothing to draw the people of Gzira to use it.
Chairman of Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) Arnold Cassola demanded a full investigation into the contract between the Maltese government and the Midi consortium: “If any of the conditions of the contract have been breached, Manoel Island is to be returned to the Maltese government and is to be turned into a national park.“
“As things stand, AD totally refutes the proposal of the Midi developers to develop Manoel Island into a hotel at Fort Manoel, a shopping complex and a casino-hotel at the historic 18th century Lazaretto, retail outlets and luxury low-rise apartments, a helipad and superyacht marina, while taking over also the foreshore including the current swimming spot beneath the fort to build a water taxi pontoon.”
“The Midi developers have already caused enough damage by reducing Tigne Point to a concrete slum. We reiterate that Manoel Island, the only lung in the polluted and congested Tas-Sliema and Gżira area, should be turned into a national park for the enjoyment of one and all.”
However, a Midi spokesman Graham A Fairclough said: “The Deed includes an Outline Development Permit clearly setting out the parameters of the development and specifies the extent of development permitted including a mix of low rise residential and commercial development, marina, restoration, dredging, land reclamation and infrastructural obligations.
“The company is fully committed to the restoration and rehabilitation of the heritage buildings on Manoel Island and the extensive provision of space for leisure and heritage walks and events. As such, the masterplan, in line with the Deed, envisages that 62% of Manoel Island is to be dedicated to public open spaces (including the creation of an 80,000‐square metre park), 20% of Manoel Island is to be dedicated to heritage buildings and 18% of Manoel Island is to be dedicated to new buildings. The foreshore will be fully accessible to the public and swimmers.”
The agreement demands that development must be completed by March 2023. Otherwise, the consortium will be fined daily for 3 years until the contract gets cancelled.