News

MDA insists its Budget proposals as agreed before general election

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

The Malta Developers Association presented a substantial document with concrete proposals for Budget 2018, some of which can be implemented immediately.

MDA President Sandro Chetcuti, who headed a delegation of Council members, augured that the Prime Minister and his Government would continue to achieve further progress and success in its endeavours to take the country to the next level. He praised Government’s initiatives that have truly brought the best of times in terms of employment and a booming economy.

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Both PN leadership contenders request meeting with MDA

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

The two Nationalist Party leadership contenders, Dr Adrian Delia and Dr Chris Said, held separate meetings with the Malta Developers Association Council. The meetings, held at the request of the two candidates, turned out to be two long, fruitful discussions.

Both Dr Delia and Dr Said acknowledged the good work of the MDA and its highly valid contribution to the country.

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older news

Let’s build a better Malta

by Sandro Chetcuti

President of the Malta Developers Association

I have been involved in the real estate market for more than 25 years now. I remember people afraid of buying property in secondary roads where it was very difficult to find a street surfaced with tarmac. Experience led me to believe that, during that time, most people preferred to buy land and build their own residence rather than go for houses already owned by somebody else. At the time, developers used to build ground floor and/or first floor maisonettes, however, the ground floor unit was more difficult to sell.

I saw the Maltese islands change over time: when the construction industry was booming, the economy in general was becoming very strong. Developers always responded to the needs of the country from time to time.

The property industry started flourishing in the 1970s and early 1980s and, then again, in the 1990s. Between 2000 and 2006, construction activity was at its peak. During this period, I used to stress in various forums, like BICC, that much better planning was needed in Malta.

Development and the building industry also service other economic sectors. Tourism is the most obvious and glaring example. But even the very successful gaming industry has experienced development. It needs to offer accommodation to so many people coming to work in Malta. That is why there is a booming rental market in the Sliema/St Julian’s area, where demand outstrips supply, in spite of the prophets of doom always pontificating that new units will remain empty. The courage of developers believing in what they were doing won the day.

When finalising the local plans in 2006 a lot of damage was done to both the environment and planning. Speculation and political pressure ruined a lot of areas, especially in the central and the north part of the island. Attard, Swieqi, San Ġwann, parts of Madliena, Mellieħa and other villages are an example of this.

To be fair to the previous administration, a lot of pressure was made by the public and the Church to make the government better realise the way property prices were rising at a fast rate. I never agreed with the manner in which this matter was tackled.

The political ‘solution’ was to increase density in already built-up areas and height limitations were raised across the board. There was a time when the supply of some properties far exceeded the demand and developers focused on the market for first-time buyers.

Now it is useless crying over spilt milk. It is useless blaming one another. We need to focus on attaining more sensible planning parameters leading to projects of a much higher standard. Even the regeneration of built-up areas needs to be done in a much better way.

Rightly so, this administration is giving the deserved importance to the real estate and construction industry. The government seems to be very much interested in good quality projects but it seems it needs to better understand how to make this happen.

First of all, we need to upgrade our roads and infrastructure including public transport. We need to start now before it is too late. Huge investment is needed to enhance the infrastructure. We need to give incentives to comprehensive development rather than be afraid of large projects. We need to appreciate the professional developer.

We need suggestions and not just objections.

The idea of demerging planning and environment is a good idea in principle. In this way, the environment will no longer be subservient to planning. Intelligent investors and smart developers know that one cannot ignore the other. To be given the importance it deserves, the environment should be the res­ponsibility and the only focus of an autonomous authority, more so in a small country like ours where every square inch is noted.

The environment is not about how much abandoned land we leave in Malta but about how successful we are in creating a better countryside and beautiful landscapes in areas not marked for building as well as providing decent accommodation for living and working plus venues for entertainment in other already developed areas where a beautiful and holistic atmosphere can be created.

We need to think outside the box and not just stick to the straightjacket of rigid written policies and guidelines.

Everyone can appreciate beautiful projects and everyone is happy when things are done in the right way. Unfortunately, I must admit that, at times, some people get lost in pushing for refusals rather than try to work harder to ensure a better environment.

Our country will be changed over the next 50 years and no one will remember how it is today.

Everything changes in life. Nobody will stop progress. So, I say, let’s work hard together to be rewarded with a better Malta.

Talking Point article published on 10 August, 2015, in the Times of Malta.

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