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GSD questions Govt on plans for Queen’s Cinema site

Pic: Johnny Bugeja

The GSD has accused the Government of “ditching” another manifesto commitment on the Queen’s Cinema site and asked whether it will now be used for luxury housing.

The party said the Government’s decision to put the area out to tender for general use “represents yet another ceremonious abandonment by the GSLP Government of its promises to the electorate in respect of that site.”

In a statement to the press, Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi, said the GSLP had promised the electorate it would use the site to develop affordable 50/50 housing and rental housing for the elderly eight months ago.

The GSD said these proposals also included a small Art-house style cinema and for dancing clubs at the old Queen’s Cinema site with the historic use of the location of the old Assembly rooms.

“The clear impression to anyone reading the manifesto was that these were going to be the exclusive uses of the site,” Mr Azopardi said.

“It seems clear that under this latest expressions of interest process any residential or commercial scheme is possible – including luxury housing.”

“There is no provision for the cultural use promised or affordable 50/50 housing for general sale.”

“The only restriction is that there must be some sheltered housing for the elderly for sale or for rental.”

“It is clear that the Government are seeking interest from private developers as there is a reference to the negotiation of a premium.”

“This is no longer the Government exclusively developing the site for affordable and rental housing and cultural use.”

“Is this what they rammed through the demolition of the Queen’s Cinema site for? So as to benefit commercial developers?”

Mr Azopardi said this is not the first time the GSLP has “abandoned” a manifesto commitment in relation to this site, adding that the Government had previously promised to deliver a Queen’s National Theatre in its 2015 manifesto after it had declared it had bought the site in 2013 for £3.5million.

Later, in June 2014 the Government had bought the remaining lease on the Queen’s Hotel site for an undisclosed sum.

“By 2017 it was unceremoniously repositioning itself to ditch the Theatre proposal,” Mr Azopardi said.

“The Government said in October 2017 that it had been approached by developers on an ‘unsolicited basis’ to develop the Queen’s Cinema and Queen’s Hotel sites.”

“By October 2017 it was inviting expressions of interest for a mixed-use scheme.”

“Subsequently and to seek support at the last elections they came up with promises for affordable and rental housing plus the cultural use of the site.”

“It is incredible that these promises have been ditched in a few short months.”

“What this catalogue of broken promises shows you is that it is impossible to believe their promises made for electoral motives that are then flushed away months later.”