DPF committee chairperson Vincent Cassar, Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia and Floriana Mayor Davina Sammut Hili (from left) during the inauguration of the gardens, Source: Aaron Farrugia on Facebook

Floriana's King George V Gardens brought back to life

Floriana's King George V Gardens brought back to life

EUR 400 000 investment has provided for new paving, open-air gym, security cameras and irrigation system

There is hardly a visitor to Floriana, the fortified town on the doorstep of Malta’s capital Valletta, who has not been blown away by the spectacular views of the Grand Harbour from King George V Gardens. Inaugurated back in 1936 by King George V himself, this green space was recently in need of upgrading to improve its usability, safety, and accessibility.

Now, almost three years since the Planning Authority agreed to finance the renovation project with EUR 400 000 from its Development Planning Fund (DPF), the gardens can show their new face.

Under local council scrutiny

Refurbishment works, spanning more than a year, were coordinated by the Floriana local council and led to the installation of new paving, new toilet facilities, new outdoor gym equipment, as well as new and safer playing field equipment. 14 security cameras were positioned throughout the gardens’ area.

The revamping also included upgrades to the irrigation system, electrical and cabling systems and repairs to the lampposts. Replacement of the football field's turf and perimeter fencing is pending.

Investment in life-improving projects

Wednesday’s inauguration of the renewed gardens was attended by Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, DPF committee chairperson Vincent Cassar and Floriana mayor Davina Sammut Hili. Hili said that the Floriana Local Council is handing back to the community a fully refurbished family recreational centre. 

Farrugia, as quoted by Times of Malta, underscored the role DPF plays in bankrolling embellishment projects that improve the urban environment and ultimately elevate the quality of life of locals. He encouraged not just local councils, but also NGOs and individuals to apply for such projects. 

Cassar remarked that such public gardens give people space to exercise and access to nature which benefits both their physical and mental health. Therefore, he urged local councils to plan more open green spaces in their municipalities.

Site of Malta’s first playing field

Situated on the Floriana bastions, King George V Gardens were initially part of the King George V hospital, but later the public was granted access to it. Visitors enter the gardens through a memorable decorated arch topped by the British Monarchy coat-of-arms. In 1951, the Malta Playing Fields Association was headquartered in a clubhouse in the gardens and the first playing field in Malta was installed nearby.  

St Anne Street pedestrianization project  

Farrugia also spoke about the project to turn St Anne Street, Floriana’s major thoroughfare, into a pedestrian and cycling green garden, by burying car traffic in a tunnel below. The Minister said that he expects to receive the results of the geotechnical studies in the coming weeks and, afterwards, he will inform the Cabinet. The studies have been commissioned by the Environment Ministry to determine the stability and safety of planned excavation works.

The St Anne Street project dates back to 2014, but has been given a fresh impetus after a similar proposal for the Paris’s Champs-Élysées, later extended to the entire historic centre, got the green light.

The Floriana project is the brainchild of four architects from local architectural and structural engineering firm DHI Periti who propose the tunnel entry to be at the Lion Fountain with cars exiting just before the roundabout leading to Valletta. The Pope John Paul II Square would also get a makeover in the process.

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