Malta’s largest shopping mall proposed in Għaxaq

Impact on air quality and junction capacity to be offset by creation of new roundabout on Tal-Barrani Road according to ERA which has concluded the project does not warrant an Environment Impact Assessment

A massive shopping mall in the outskirts of Għaxaq and Żejtun requires no environmental study because its impacts are unlikely to be significant, the environmental watchdog said.

But the Environment and Resources Authority’s conclusion comes with a caveat: a roundabout must be built on Tal-Barrani Road at the entrance to the proposed complex.

The mall will have nearly 19,000sq.m of retail space and will be situated next to the Lidl supermarket. The project is expected to cause a significant increase in car trips to the area.

A screening report by ERA refers to studies showing that the project will generate an annual average daily traffic (AADT) of around 6,626 car trips.

In view of this, ERA had requested an Air Quality Study, which concluded that improving the existing junction that is controlled by traffic lights will be “sufficient in mitigating the  negative impact on air quality during operations”.

According to the air quality study a roundabout will increase the vehicular flow and thus decrease congestion in the streets.

The junction improvement will consist of a proposed two-lane roundabout with slip roads at Triq Tal-Barrani to connect this road with Triq Vjal il-25 Novembru that leads into Żejtun.

According to a Project Development Statement presented by the developer in May, Infrastructure Malta intends to upgrade the junction and access to the commercial complex will be through the upgraded junction.

The proposed infrastructural works will also ensure that this junction will not exceed capacity with the newly created traffic generated by the project by 2030.

A transport impact assessment also recommends measures promoting sustainable modes of transport including walking, cycling and public transport.

While exempting the project from a full Environmental Impact Study, ERA has expressed concern on the suggestion made in the Project Development Statement that industrial activities in the area will be “relocated” to an unspecified alternative site.

ERA has made it clear that the displacement of industrial facilities would be subject to environmental assessment on its own merits and should not be construed as a commitment for any site.

It also recommended consultation with the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage due to the proximity to Villa Mekrech which is located 160m to the south of the site.

But the loss of the existing undeveloped land is not considered significant in environmental terms, since the site consists mostly of disturbed land and is in a so-called Area of Containment where limited commercial and industrial development is allowed.

Malta’s largest shopping mall

The shopping village, which is set to become Malta’s largest mall, even bigger than Tigne Point, is being proposed by Anton Schembri of Schembri Barbros Ltd instead of industrial garages and a concrete batching plant that occupy 23,520sq.m of land next to the Lidl supermarket. 

According to the latest plans the retail and leisure complex will be built over three floors (10.5m) on a footprint of 14,220sq.m. Two levels of underground parking are set to accommodate 1,014 parking spaces. 

Apart from shops, the village will include a 2,500sq.m underground gymnasium and a 700sq.m childcare centre set on the second level. The upper floor will include 7,000sq.m of food and beverage outlets. The project envisages a total floor area of 18,700sq.m dedicated to retail. The existing Lidl supermarket will be retained.