Bringing Back Valletta’s Magic

February, 26, 2019

HOW THE PLANNING AUTHORITY HELPED IN VALLETTA’S REVIVAL

Charm, appeal, warmth, life... Until a few years ago, these words were used with a sense of nostalgia when related to Valletta. The city for a number of years had entered a vicious cycle whereby the lack of vision and dilapidation was causing many businesses and residents to move out and leaving an increasing number of abandoned properties in its wake.

Then, in the nick of time, a regenerating initiative was undertaken by various stakeholders, and their vision, courage and determination managed to start turning things around. Today, when walking through the city streets, you can feel that there is a renewed sense of pride; an expectation that the city is fast becoming a place where to live again and where culture, gastronomy, art, entertainment, and hospitality converge turning Valletta into a destination.

In line with the Government’s strategy for Valletta, the Planning Authority (PA) has been a key player in this project, as it has continuously promoted and supported the outstanding universal value of the City of Valletta based on integrity, authenticity, management, and protection.

THE RIGHT DEVELOPMENT
The PA had a duty to ensure that the right planning permissions would be approved to help give Valletta the recognition it deserves, not only to stand above other localities in Malta but also to hold its own when compared to other capital cities. To do this, Valletta’s prestige, history, and unique character
needed to be allowed to flourish.

Over these past years, the PA has approved the conversion of numerous delapitated Palazzos into uniques and charmful boutique hotels.

To ensure that Valletta’s inhabitants enjoy the rewards of living in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Authority has encouraged and permitted restoration works on stretches of building façades as well as of numerous shopfronts.

Other projects that stand out are contributing towards this aim include the move of the Fine Arts Museum from Admiralty House in South Street to the Auberge d’Italie. Now known as MUZA, it seeks to promote greater participation by the community through a story-based narrative of displays and related objects.

Then, there is the Valletta Design Cluster, which will see the Old Abattoir (Il-Biccerija) – one of Valletta’s earliest buildings – being turned into a community space for cultural and creative practices. Expected to be completed by the end of this year, the venue will include an exhibition space, a conference room, co-working spaces, and spaces for artists in residence, among others.

Thirdly is the extension and modernization of the St John’s Co-Cathedral Museum, which will finally allow nearly all of the priceless artifacts to be displayed adequately, including the world’s largest set of Gobelin tapestries.

Finally, the revival of Strait Street. In 2015, the PA adopted a new planning policy to regenerate and give this ‘unique’ street a new lease of life. Today, the year-round nightlife is attracting locals and visitors alike, while serving as a financial injection to ensure its survival.

HELPING VALLETTA RESIDENTS
Of course, Valletta does not exist in a bubble: it is not just somewhere people go for culture, or shopping, or entertainment. The city is home to thousands and bettering their lives was one of
the top priorities.

One way the PA helped with this, while also preserving Valletta’s aesthetics, was through the Marsamxett Balcony Grant Scheme 2018. A collaboration with the Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds and Social Dialogue, the €2 million balcony grant scheme for Marsamxett residents aimed to alleviate the financial cost of restoring and maintaining traditional balconies, especially those made out of timber, in order to encourage their continued use.

Over these past two years, close to a100 Valletta residences benefitted from the €18 million PA’s Irrestawra Darek scheme. The purpose of this scheme has been to assist in the regeneration of Malta traditional village core areas whilst promote investment in the restoration, conservation, and maintenance of Malta’s built heritage.

Moreover, the Authority is also funding two community projects in the city. One is the restoration of Centru Santu Rokku in Valletta. Once restored the center, which is an old palazzino in St Ursula Street will provide youth living in Valletta and the surrounding areas a safe social space for them to receive the necessary skills and mentoring to cope with life’s pressures. The Authority is also funding restoration and maintenance works to a number of pavements and pedestrian areas in the residential parts of the city.



BEAUTIFYING THE CITY
Valletta has always had a lot to o?er, but there was a time when the city felt like it was decaying. While the regenerative projects mentioned above were among the many that helped the city’s stellar revival, an uplift of its streets and surroundings was vital.

The project that has, arguably, had the biggest impact on those visiting Valletta was the embellishment project of Triton Square, which not only complimented the new Parliament building but saw the pedestrianisation of the whole area and the formalisation of the multitude of services that operated from there.This was further complemented by the paving and landscaping of the Valletta Ditch, which can be seen from the bridge that connects Triton Square to City Gate.

The regeneration and conservation of the covered market (is-Suq l-Antik tal-Belt) also formed part of the PA’s over-all plan to do justice to Valletta’s history and architecture. And, today, it attracts numerous visitors and patrons through the services it o?ers in the heart of the capital.

Through these projects, as well as others, Valletta has started its ascent back to its former glory, and the PA is proud and honoured to be part of this journey.