The Malta Independent 20 October 2018, Saturday

Superintendence of Cultural Heritage objects to dwelling application near temple

Sunday, 4 February 2018, 08:00 Last update: about 10 months ago

An application for the construction of a house located on land just outside the development zone near the Ta' Ħaġrat temples in Mgarr, has seen strong objections by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, as well as other residents in the area.

The site, located just off Triq Fisher, would have a dwelling constructed just outside the development zone boundary, close to the Ta Ħaġrat temples. It is worth noting that the site is right next to other dwellings which are located within the development zone; however, one concern raised is that allowing such a development on ODZ could create a precedent in the area. Objections raised also include the closeness of the site to the temples and that the site lies outside the development zone.

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The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage argues that the proposed development is located within the area of archaeological importance of Skorba and Ta' Ħaġrat. "The site footprint is located within 100m from Ta' Ħaġrat Temples - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - and a scheduled Class A monument. The site footprint is agricultural land and located entirely in an area designated as Outside Development Zone."

"The Superintendence strongly objects to this development application and recommends that development on this site footprint be refused. The Superintendence underlines the archaeological sensitivity of the area and notes that the development will also have an impact on existing views and vistas from Ta' Ħaġrat Temples, as well as the natural and cultural landscape setting. Together with Ġgantija, Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra, Tarxien Temples Complex and Skorba (all megalithic temple sites), Ta' Ħaġrat Temples have been included under the inscription 'The Megalithic Temples of Malta' as a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As a state that is party to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention (1972), Malta is obliged to safeguard the site and its surroundings on behalf of the international community. The proposed development would adversely affect the World Heritage Site, and would therefore be in breach of Malta's international obligations under the Convention. Approval of this development application may jeopardise the World Heritage Status of the UNESCO inscription. The Planning Authority is urged to implement its policies to ensure the protection of the natural and cultural landscape."

The ERA noted that the proposed development lies just outside the boundary of the Development Zone, and that in this regard, the proposal cannot be considered favourably from an environmental point of view. The ERA states that the development will result in the proliferation and lateral expansion of built development out of the scheme boundary, as well as loss of undeveloped rural land. Moreover, the ERA notes that the site is designated as an Open Space Gap and thus should be retained as such. The ERA also voiced its concern about "future proposals for extensions / ancillary interventions if the development is established and consolidated; as well as the setting of an undesirable precedent for similar future developments in the area. Approval of the development would make the surrounding area amenable to future pressures for urban sprawl into the remaining countryside." It said that the proposal is also objectionable from an environmental point of view.

A number of residents and Din l-Art Helwa also objected to the development.


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