The Malta Independent 21 September 2021, Tuesday

Controversial apartment block application on Nadur fields downsized and reactivated

Albert Galea Monday, 13 September 2021, 09:32 Last update: about 7 days ago

A controversial planning application which would see the construction of an apartment block on a tract of agricultural land in Nadur, Gozo, has been downsized and reactivated.

The application, revealed by The Malta Independent last January, would have seen the construction of two basement levels with 74 garages, a communal pool, and 71 apartments across a height of four storeys. 

The application is situated in Triq il-Qortin on a tract of agricultural land which is within the development zone, having been included in the controversial 2006 rationalisation scheme - however parts of it were abutting into outside development zone (ODZ) land.

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After the application was met with a huge negative response - over 1,300 people submitted their representations against the project to the Planning Authority - it was suspended by the applicant - a firm called Titan Development Limited.

It remained suspended for a number of months, however was reactivated recently, with downscaled plans submitted last June.

The new plans will still see the apartment block rise four storeys, but will see 55 apartments built instead of 71 and provide 67 parking spaces instead of 77.

It is not clear, however, what the amount of land take-up compared to the initial plans will be, as a new block plan is yet to be submitted.

Indeed, a representative for the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA) said in a consultation to the applicant that while the newly submitted plans indicate that the project has been downscaled, a block plan of the proposed development showing that the project would not extend into ODZ land should be submitted by the project's architect.

Consultations from other institutions on the project are yet to be submitted, and the project has not received a recommendation from the Planning Authority's case officer yet.

After being revealed by The Malta Independent last January, the project had garnered huge criticism, especially as it came at a time where increased focus was being placed on the increase in the development sprawl in Gozo.

Residents had argued that the development was situated on arable land, which was in use, and would create a precedent to destroy existing fields, while others noted that the road does not have any access to the sewage system and that the drainage from the project would go directly into the water table -to the further detriment of the fields which are left in the area.

This newsroom also revealed last February that three objectors to the project claimed that the applicant - Titan Developments Ltd - did not own part of the site that they are planning to build the project on.

Objectors Edmund Vella, Mary DeBono Borg, and Sonia Mifsud told the PA that they are the co-owners of around a third of the site and that the developers had made a false declaration in saying that they own the entire site.

Indeed, in the Public Application Form - which is one of the first documents that one must submit when applying for any planning permit from the PA - Titan Developments Ltd selected the "I am an owner of the entire site" option.

However, a new Public Application Form was submitted last May, with the applicant this time selecting the "I am not the owner of the entire site, but I am authorised to carry out such proposed development through an agreement with the owner" option.

It is not clear who the actual owner of the site is, although a joint investigation by Lovin Malta and The Shift News had found that the land where this development is slated to take place - known as Tas-Sajtun - was transferred to a company called Carravan Company Ltd by the medieval foundation Beneficcju ta Sant Antonio delli Navarra in 2018.

That is the same medieval foundation which has left homeowners across Nadur worried that they may not actually own their own homes.

It is not known what arrangement exists between Carravan Company Ltd and the applicants Titan Developments Ltd.

The process for the application to come under the scrutiny of the planning board still has some way to go: entities such as Transport Malta, the ERA, the Nadur local council, and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage are yet to submit their final considerations and recommendations on the project.

A case officer will then compile the details of the project, the representations against it, and the opinions and recommendations of these entities in order to recommend whether the PA board should grant or refuse permission for the proposal.


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