The Malta Independent 28 June 2022, Tuesday

Ta’ Cenc – The true facts

Malta Independent Sunday, 16 September 2007, 00:00 Last update: about 9 years ago

Reference is made to Anne Zammit’s letter and photo that appeared in The Times of 6 September.

As usual, the photo shown with that letter has nothing to do with the proposed development. It is public knowledge that the villa with its surrounding area does not even belong to Real Finanz as it was sold to a Maltese family in 1997 before the Gozitan owners took over.

Besides this, no development of any sort is proposed to take place anywhere in this area either now or in the future, as this area is scheduled a protected area.

Showing photos that are only intended to mislead the general public surely begs the question whether the authors of such misleading photos really have the interest of the environment at heart or have ulterior motives. The aerial photomontage showing the whole Ta’ Cenc area and identifying the existing shaded in red – and proposed development surely does more justice. Ms Zammit seems to purposely forget that unlike Xaghra l-Hamra, Ta’ Cenc is privately owned.

In response to a parliamentary question made by Socialist MP Lino Debono to Prof. Guido de Marco – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice and Interior Affairs, De Marco confirmed that the Ta’ Cenc territory is privately owned and as such the owners have every right to refuse access to their property to anybody.

The only rights that exist on the Ta’ Cenc land are:

Contract date 15/5/1912 between Government of Malta and Paulina Farrugia Bugeja – servitude to lay pipes – for the sum of seven pounds ten shillings.

Contract dated 11/7/1922 between Government of Malta and Paulina Farrugia Bugeja – to lay and maintain pipes for the sum of two pounds.

In 1997, when Real Finanz sold the existing villas, the present villa owners were granted access to their villas on condition that “the said roads may be altered according to vender nominee’s exigencies”.

As can be seen from the above, and coming from the highest authorities in the country, any claim to unhindered right of access to the Ta’ Cenc area is spurious and goes against the laws of the land which gives the owner the enjoyment of his property to the exclusion of all others.

The right to private property is in fact entrenched in the Maltese Constitution as a fundamental human right, together with other rights as the right to privacy.

The above clearly proves that the only people who have right of access to Ta’ Cenc are the present villa owners and their invitees besides the WSC.

No wonder a few of the present villa owners are making such a big fuss, under the pretence of protecting Ta’ Cenc. At the public hearing one of the villa owners even stated publicly that he does not want any more villas built in the present villa area. The only way these very selective villa owners will not be the only ones to enjoy Ta’ Cenc is when all the provisions of policy GZ-Snat-2 of the Gozo and Comino Local Plan are implemented with the approval of the proposed development.

Apart from the detailed provisions of the development, one of a number of fundamental points, which have to be observed in the development of this area, is aimed at:

Policy GZ-Snat 2, which states:

Section d

“Safeguard the area indicated on map 13.6 for free and unhindered coastal access”

Section e

“Protect a pedestrian path shown on map 14-11-E running parallel to the northern carriageway route which links the hotel to the villa area for free and unhindered public access.

If the right of private ownership did not exist, the abovementioned conditions in the Gozo and Comino Local Plan would have been superfluous.

With reference to Ms Zammit saying “perhaps MEPA should be final from the start about what types of rural development may be permitted in ODZ areas and what can no longer be tolerated,” the answer is very much clearer than she is trying to make readers believe.

As Ms Zammit rightly said, “the last surge before development outside the zone (ODZ) was finally sealed” was when the Gozo and Comino Local Plan was endorsed by the Minister in August 2006. Somehow and for reasons known only to herself and a few of her friends, Ms Zammit never mentioned policy GZ-Setl-3, which, although endorsed in 2006, the approved draft had been published by MEPA for public consultation in June 2002 – a full four years – surely enough time for public scrutiny and for any amendments to be made before the Gozo and Comino Local Plan was endorsed.

This was published after “a number of submissions and studies had been undertaken in consultation with the Planning Authority so that the provisions of this policy (Policy TOU 10) are implemented”. For ease of reference – Policy GZ- Setl-3 is reproduced hereunder.

Section 4.2.2 – Other Designated Areas states:

“The Structure Plan identifies a number of areas where special forms of development are permitted through the relevant set of strategic policies, although these are not formally included in the Development Zone boundary shown in the Temporary Provisions Schemes. The local plan is delineating these areas so that the extent of the applicability of the relevant policies can be easily identified.

“These areas include Mgarr Harbour, The Xewkija Heliport, Cittadella, Fort Chambray, the industrial area due west of the Xewkija Industrial Estate, Ta’ Dbiegi Crafts Village, Ta’ Cenc…”.

As stated above, MEPA has been final from the start – yes since 2002, about what types of rural development would be permitted in ODZ areas.

MEPA was so final about Ta’ Cenc being the only privately owned area out of the seven areas included, which the local plan is delineating so that the extent of the applicability of the relevant policies can be identified.

Facts speak louder than words. No wonder even MEPA itself said on 25 August 2006 – that is after the Minister endorsed the GCLP, that:

“It borders on the incredible how something that is easily available for the public may be allowed to be distorted beyond recognition.

“It seems naïve to state this, but an application is assessed according to Policy. The current policy applicable on Ta’ Cenc is TOU 10 of the Structure Plan and GZ-Snat-2 of the Gozo and Comino Local Plan. These are complementary to each other and it is therefore ludicrous to interpret the local plan as going against the Structure Plan.”

The above press release was not issued by Real Finanz a.g. but by MEPA the ruling body for an impartial planning process and decisions.

The above clearly proves to any citizen living in a truly democratic country that under no circumstances can anyone believe that so many commitments made by the highest authorities and even policies made specifically for the development of Ta’ Cenc as proposed, were done just for development to be allowed only in the hotel area never mind on the existing footprint – that is the redevelopment of existing and other partly developed derelict structures and disturbed land.

The pristine countryside will not only not be touched but it will be available for the public to enjoy with the creation of the Heritage Park, which together with the protected areas will take up about 60 per cent of the total area – an area even larger than the whole of Valletta.

The Mgarr ix-Xini area will not be touched as most of the area belongs to third parties – (existing villas), while the remaining is all protected.

Would anybody believe that all these commitments made over all these years were made so that now that the villas belong to a few influential Maltese families, they would be the selected few who would be the only ones to enjoy Ta’ Cenc to the exclusion of all other.

If this would be the case and the proposed project is not approved, it would really send the wrong message. We can assure Ms Zammit that the whole truth will be revealed at the opportune time.

Victor J. Borg

Real Finanz a.g.

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