The Malta Independent 2 December 2023, Saturday
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New Development boundaries - More towns, villages losing pristine land

Malta Independent Sunday, 25 June 2006, 00:00 Last update: about 11 years ago

Although the consultation period for the general public to submit suggestions to the way the new development zones have been drawn up came to an end on Friday, this newspaper will continue analysing the situation in the numerous towns and villages that will be forever affected by the extension of building zones. So far, we have covered Mosta, Gharghur, Marsascala, Dingli, Siggiewi and Qrendi.

This week, we decided to focus on Mqabba and Mgarr, two localities that will see substantial parts of land allocated to development. Both local councils have expressed concern on the way the new zones were set up as these will have a detrimental effect on residents, apart from the fact that this land has been farmed for generations.


At first glance, this village does not seem to be affected unduly but the two large tracts of land that are proposed on the south east periphery are quite substantial. Zone A proposal to extend further a row of terraced houses along the bypass will allegedly create problems during the rainy season, as the garages of the adjoining houses will continue to be more like swimming pools according to the Mqabba Local Council.

In a statement, the council complained that the village was already subjected to large quantities of dust from adjoining quarries, and the fact that the last tracts of arable land were now to be given up to development would continue to detract from the residents’ quality of life.

Zone B is an even larger area and has a number of houses that found themselves outside the Temporary Development Schemes in 1988. However, it also includes a sizeable portion of new land that has been earmarked for further development. One can also note that there are still substantial pockets of land that have been within the building scheme for a long time but which remain undeveloped, so it is difficult to understand the rationale behind the decision to expand the building zones further, a point which is sustained by the local council.


This small rural village will suffer considerable extensions to its current development boundaries with four parcels of land (two of them pretty substantial), which have been earmarked for development. The Mgarr Local Council has objected strongly to Zone A, which lies right in front of the parish church parvis. Local sources are up in arms against this scheme, which will remove forever the magnificent view enjoyed from the zuntier and is unique to Mgarr. The tract of land is substantial and contains space for several housing units, which would contribute substantially to urban sprawl.

Zone B to the north east of the village appears to logically seal off the boundary on this side of Mgarr although it is also pretty large in its own right. However, the most contentious zone is the one marked D, which almost links Mgarr to Zebbiegh and appears to completely disregard the fact that this is agricultural land. Apart from being an obvious anomaly, this extension will create a precedent and will open up the vast swathe of land between Mgarr and its smallish suburb to speculation; undoubtedly, there will be many who will start purchasing land close to this zone.

Zone C is a rather small pocket on the southwest periphery, which will not affect the village unduly although it does seem to extend its borders.

In a statement, the Committee for the Protection of Rural Zones at Ghajn Tuffieha also expressed its concern about giving up prime agricultural land to development.

“Yet again, the Committee wishes to drive home the point that we should do away with the wrong mentality that the farmer is only the temporary guardian of the land, that is, until any speculator or developer (sic) wants that land for his or her own individual gain.”

Secretary Mario Cardona said the days are long gone when the farmer could be ill-treated and simply cast aside every time the authorities decided that his or her lands should be turned into a building site.

“We strongly feel it is high time that the farmers and their associations (national associations, cooperatives, producers’ group and so on.) join forces and voice their concerns and shield the farmer from any further abuse. The farmer has a right to his livelihood and his way of life as much as the speculator does. After all, a sound and thriving agricultural industry would literally benefit all.”

Next week this paper will discuss Zebbiegh and Mellieha. Comments and suggestions are welcome on [email protected]

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