The Malta Racing Club is awaiting the Planning Authority to issue an outline development permit so that the much-awaited Marsa Racetrack project will finally get underway, the Sunday Times of Malta can reveal.
Last year, the government announced plans to renovate the Marsa Racetrack.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Sport Clifton Grima revealed plans to upgrade the horse-racing track that would forsee enlarged spectator stands and modern facilities for dressage and show jumping, among other developments aimed at elevating the sport to international level.
Restaurants, shops, an educational family park and a child care centre will also be included to make the track more attractive to the wider population.
The deal obliged Marsa Race Track Ltd, the company set to take over the track, to invest €24 million in horse racing.
However, almost 12 months passed since the launching of the project and so far there have been very little developments on when the project will get under way.
Contacted by The Sunday Times of Malta, Dr Pio Valletta, one of the lawyers representing Marsa Race Track Ltd, said that the project is well on course and said that they are awaiting MEPA to issue the permit.
“At the moment, we are awaiting the outline development permit from the Planning Authority,” Dr Valletta said.
“From the information I gathered, the process has reached at an advanced stage. All the studies that had to be done have been completed and hopefully the permit will be issued very soon.
“Once the permit is issued, we can proceed to the next stage which will see us signing the Concession Agreement and the Deed of Institution of the land with the government so that construction works can start.”
Dr Valletta said once the investing company has the agreement with the government in place, it will have some projected timelines on the work being carried out to fulfil.
“The project will see a complete overhaul of the facilities at the Marsa Racetrack,” he said.
“Once the agreement is signed we have close to two years to complete renovation process of the racetrack. The works will include a completely new track that will be able to host both trotting and flat racing.
“Apart from that, in the central part of the track, an area for Polo will be built while there will also be 400 new stables and extensive area for showjumping.
“The facilities will be of a high standard so we can hold international events.
“As regards the commercial side of the project, we have four years for that to be completed.”
In the meantime, the horse racing enthusiasts in Malta are waiting anxiously for the health authorities to lift their social distancing restrictions as they hope to restart racing at the Marsa Racetrack after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Horse racing in Malta was halted at the start of March but since then, the racing enthusiasts in Malta have been itching to see a return to action at the Marsa Racetrack.
Edwin Borg, the Malta Racing Club chairman, confirmed that the local governing body of racing are continuously in contact with the health authorities.
“At the moment, we need to follow the legal notice issued by the health authorities,” Borg said.
“The club is continuously in contact with the health authorities and we’re just waiting for them to lift the restrictions so we can continue our season. We have already a plan in place to start racing again, we just need to receive the green light.
“We have lined up plans for when racing will restart. We are hopeful that our season would continue between September and December.”