The national school agency Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools justified its plans for a sports complex on 22,000 m² of agricultural land in Dingli as a means of “further promoting physical education, health and well-being” for children. students and the community.
In its project development statement, the FTS acknowledged that its sports halls and athletic track for Dingli will be located on plowed farmland and would result in the removal and displacement of some trees.
The area includes more than 30 carob trees and a number of cypress trees.
Soil removed from the site will be moved to a nearby “disturbed” site, also outside of development areas, as part of a mitigation measure.
But FTS ruled out locating the sports complex on this site, as the sports halls would end up being built on higher grounds and further away from Saint Nicholas College.
The FTS insists the proposal will provide students and the community with sports facilities. The project includes an indoor gym and swimming pool, complete with changing rooms, a lobby, two classrooms, a two-story office building, a first aid room and storage space. It also includes a 200m athletics track with two five-a-side football pitches in its central area.
In addition to serving the college, the sports complex will offer sports equipment to the general public outside of school hours.
The FTS said it had considered other sites in the vicinity of other schools belonging to the Saint-Nicolas College network in Attard, Mgarr, Imtarfa, Bahrija, Rabat and Dingli. But these were excluded either because they were located in built-up areas, not as accessible by other schools in the same college, or because any expansion was considered to have a greater negative environmental impact.
The FTS said the proposed layout will make it easier for school transport to circulate around the perimeter of this fenced recreation area, so that students will get off the buses directly onto the school sidewalk without crossing vehicle traffic flows, improving considerably security.
The location to the north-west of the sports hall and indoor swimming pool “will also protect the school from
wind as well as dust emanating from the nearby quarry. By grouping the rooms together with the school building and placing these rooms behind the school away from the main road, the sports halls will have a “low visual impact both near and far”.
Earlier this year, the Environment and Resources Authority described the project as “excessive and unjustifiable”, warning that construction of the sports facility would result in the loss of valuable farmland and “further intensify the presence of structures built on this ODZ site, resulting in the loss of the rural character of the region.
ERA questioned the rationale for the new sports complex due to other sports complex facilities already present near the site, including Saint Nicholas Primary School, Savio Collage, Dingli Swallows football field and the National Stadium. Ta ‘Qali himself. .
The Directorate of Environmental Protection – predecessor of ERA – had already expressed concern over the development of the existing school which was approved in 2016. One of its main concerns was “incompatibility overall with the rural character of the area ”.
In addition, the EPD had previously expressed concern over pressures for further engagement of sites beyond the school boundaries in the form of extensions, parking lots and playgrounds.
Saint-Nicolas College welcomes 650 children from the localities of Attard, Mgarr, Rabat and Dingli. The school itself had been approved in place of an already existing old building and was approved in 2015.