The Malta Independent 24 October 2020, Saturday

Moviment Graffitti urges PA to stop uglification of Gozo

Tuesday, 22 September 2020, 13:56 Last update: about 1 month ago

NGO Moviment Graffitti has called on the Planning Authority to reject an application for a ‘massive development’ that will see the construction of an eight-storey apartment block, towering over Xlendi bay the surrounding buildings.

The hearing is due on Wednesday, and despite numerous residents voicing their concern and objecting to this development, the case officer has recommended it for approval, the NGO said.

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“If approved, this development will threaten to destroy the little that is left of the original, quaint character of Xlendi and turn the area into one big eyesore. This development is not the only one that is threatening to intensify the urbanification of the area. Indeed, another massive development adjacent to the proposed apartment block, which will see the construction of a four-star hotel, is also being considered for approval by the PA.”

“Xlendi, a popular tourist resort, is already besieged by a number of hotels and apartments overlooking the bay. If approved, this development will only exacerbate the situation. The development in question (PA 3818/20), the fate of which will be decided on Wednesday, is an application for the construction of 3-level basement garages overlying 60 apartments and 6 penthouses. Considering that the construction of a hotel in the same area is also being eyed for approval and the construction of another massive block of apartments and garages is nearing completion, approving another huge development in the area will be tantamount to madness.”

Both developments, the NGO said, are clearly excessive and out of proportion with the surroundings. “The Xlendi skyline and the traditional streetscape will be ruined forever. Excavation and construction works will have an adverse effect on the quality of life of the residents and will give rise to a number of other issues, including waste generation, traffic problems and possible sea contamination. These developments also lie in direct contradiction to the Gozo Comino Local Plan, which points out that a number of tourism zones in Gozo, including Xlendi, have already been ‘considerably mutilated’ by overdevelopment. It also stresses that the features that attract tourists in the first place should be safeguarded rather than destroyed by tourism-related development.”

“It is also worth noting that PA 4587/20, which will see the construction of a four-star hotel with 80 rooms and ancillary facilities together with 5 levels of parking by a company directed by none other than construction magnate Joseph Portelli, makes mention only of phase 1 of the development, i.e. the demolition and subsequent excavation of the site. Phase 2 of the development, i.e. the actual reconstruction and redevelopment of the site, does not feature anywhere. This piecemeal approach to planning has already been seen in other massive development projects. 

“Considering that the lack of integrated planning and overdevelopment are threatening to turn tourism and coastal areas in Gozo into a concrete jungle, condemning Gozo to follow in the steps of Malta, we urge the Planning Authority to treat this application with care and bear in mind that any further unsustainable development in the area can result in irreversible damage and change forever Xlendi as we know it.”

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