The Malta Independent 18 September 2021, Saturday

Hundreds object to Zurrieq ODZ elderly home application

Thursday, 14 May 2020, 15:08 Last update: about 2 years ago

Objections to a planning application that would see an elderly home built on Zurrieq ODZ land have been flooding in.

On 27 April, The Malta Independent reported on the filing of an Outline Planning Application for the construction of a 129 room home for the elderly on land located outside the development zone in the area known as L-Għadir, in Zurrieq. The site is located on Triq San Gwann and the total site area is circa 14,000 square metres.

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Since then, hundreds of objections have been filed with the authority, and a Facebook Group called Save L-Għadir ODZ was set up.

The Żurrieq local council has objected to the development. The council argued that while there is a lack of residential facilities for the elderly in Żurrieq and the surrounding localities, the council undertook a number of initiatives to identify alternative sites in the locality for such use. The objection read that on the initiative of the council, adequate land was identified and agreement in principal with what was previously the Lands Department was reached, so that a piece of land in the urban area that is government property be kept for this use. The letter read that the council spoke to a number of authorities to promote elderly homes in Zurrieq, but till now nobody showed interest in this need being addressed.

The council however, argues that the proposal at hand by the applicant goes against the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED), and said that the SPED clearly states where and how development for social and community use (including elderly homes) can be considered in rural zones. “In this context it seems that the applicant did not make a serious analysis of the possibility of constructing a similar development in the urban area, before considering other sites outside the development zone. The council was never approached by third parties showing an interest in a massive development like this in the locality.”

The council argued that development like this, dealing with elderly homes, should be done in the urban zone, and argued that the proposed site is not ideal for this use, both in terms of the site specifically as well as accessibility wise. The council argued that it is very far from the residential area of the locality. The local council also noted that the Local Plans show the site as having been meant to be used as agricultural land.

Moviment Graffitti has said in a statement that residents of Safi, Żurrieq and Kirkop have joined forces to oppose this application “by starting the Save L-Għadir ODZ campaign.”

Moviment Graffitti has also filed an objection, and is supporting the residents’ campaign. Objections by the public can be submitted by using this online form, hosting an objection written by the residents, until the 29th of May.

Graffitti said that according to existing policies, the site in question can only be used for agricultural activity. “There are also several other areas in the vicinities that can host homes for the elderly. The proposed project would destroy a significant part of the rural, environmental and cultural heritage of the area. It would ruin the natural green belt that serves as a lung to the surrounding villages, thus negatively affecting the quality of life of the residents of Safi, Żurrieq and Kirkop by blocking out much needed clean air. Malta cannot afford to continue losing precious natural and agricultural land for speculative projects proposed under the guise of ‘old people’s homes’ which try to exploit existing policy loopholes in order to rake in millions from the development of land that is outside of development zones (ODZ).”

 

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