The King George V Gardens in Floriana, which hold spectacular views of the Grand Harbour, have undergone upgrading works, making them better, safer, and more accessible.
This was announced by Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning Aaron Farrugia, who explained that the works, which were carried out by the Floriana Local Council, were financed through the Development Planning Fund (DPF) of the Planning Authority close to the equivalent of €400,000.
Also present for the inauguration was the Chairperson of the Development Fund Committee Architect Vincent Cassar and Floriana Mayor Davina Sammut Hili.
Embellishment works included the installation of outdoor gym equipment, CCTV security equipment and an irrigation system. New and safer playing field equipment and flooring material have been installed, while the sanitary facilities in the garden have been completely changed. Maintenance was also carried out on the lampposts, while the electrical and cabling systems have been upgraded for better safety. The football pitch's turf and perimeter fencing will be replaced in the coming months.
The Minister said that, through this fund, projects aimed at improving the wellbeing, environment, and social dimension of our towns and villages are being supported. “The DPF provides local councils, NGOs, and others with the necessary financial support for them to be proactive and undertake projects that improve our urban environment and in turn our quality of life, and those which fall in line with our vision for intelligent planning," he reiterated.
Architect Vincent Cassar, Chairperson of the Development Planning Fund, said that; “Public gardens have always served an important public health function in towns and cities – giving us space to exercise and easier access to nature, nurturing our physical and mental health. These functions have become all the more critical over the past year as these spaces have been serving to give us a degree of normality." He concluded by saying that, “We encourage local councils to be spatially more creative and innovative on how and where to introduce more green open spaces in their locality. The recently inaugurated roof garden set up on the main building of the Design Cluster in Valletta should serve as a case study to instigate similar public garden projects within our densely populated urban areas."
Situated on the Floriana bastions, the gardens were inaugurated in 1936 by King George V himself. Originally, the gardens were part of the King George V hospital but were later made accessible to the public. The entrance to the gardens is characterised by a graceful decorated arch with the British Monarchy coat-of-arms up at the top.
In 1951, a clubhouse was built within the grounds of the garden to serve as the headquarters of the Malta Playing Fields Association. The first playing field in Malta was installed within this same garden.
Floriana mayor Davina Sammut Hili said that the Floriana Local Council, following works spanning over more than a year, is handing back to the community a fully refurbished family recreational center. “Among the works carried out at the King George V Recreational Grounds are modern swings, a number of which are fully accessible, an outdoor gym, new public conveniences, increased accessibility by means of ramps, a new lighting system, as well as 14 CCTV cameras all throughout the garden. Safety and curbing vandalism were a matter of concern and a top priority to the council and the community. The council also announces that, next October, works will begin on the replacement of the synthetic pitch in one of the football pitches in this garden."