A senseless economic decision

This newspaper reported that the Planning Authority “is currently running a public consultation to amend a policy in Development Control Design Policy, Guidance and Standards, a controversial document commonly known as the DC15”.

Environmental NGOs warned that revisions to the way building heights are interpreted in the current regulations could give rise to additional floors being allowed. 

The Chamber of Architects said that it is of the firm opinion that the planning system required a major reform to move away from its dependence on development control policies to regulate development, and in favour of master plans that produce comprehensive, researched and thorough strategic plans for each of Malta’s towns and villages.

The Development Planning Act states that: “It shall be the duty of the government to enhance the quality of life for the benefit of the present and future generations, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, through a comprehensive sustainable land use planning system”. The PA is the entity tasked by law to regulate planning in our country, keeping continuous focus on what the law states with regard to the responsibility of government.

A decision that would allow additional floors to be built as a result of a change in practice and policy is a senseless one from an economic and social perspective. Focusing only on the economic element, there is no economic reason to justify a decision that would allow another building boom. As the Chamber of Architects rightly pointed out, any reform of the planning system needs to be done in the context of current circumstances.

The costs of construction to the economy and to individuals are far greater than the benefits of this economic activity

Social surveys show that construction and the environment are among the most important issues facing the country and individuals at the moment. Therefore, a decision such as that being contemplated will lead to further deterioration of the quality of life of the Maltese population.

I have often said that we have a market failure in the property sector. This means that suppliers (that is building developers) are enjoying benefits in excess of what is economically justified at the expense of the buyers. Yet another building boom would exacerbate such a market failure.

The costs of construction to the economy and to individuals are far greater than the benefits of this economic activity. These costs include a deterioration in the quality of life, a reduction in the space to be used for leisure activities, subsidising public transport for third-country workers, causing strains on the infrastructure which shall require further investment, a higher incidence of illnesses.

One sincerely hopes that this change of practice and policy is not the result of lobbying by some interest groups because it was reported that there has been a decrease in construction activity. This sector has grown on the back of the low wages paid to third-country nationals. We cannot have a sustainable and thriving economy based on low wages and, as has been said enough times, we need to change our economic model.

Such a decision would ride roughshod over the common good for the benefit of the few, yet again.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us

Source link


Latest articles

Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here