The Malta Independent 4 October 2022, Tuesday
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TMID Editorial: Gozo development, hitting the nail on the head

Tuesday, 16 August 2022, 10:25 Last update: about 3 months ago

Former Prime Minister and Labour MEP Alfred Sant made an interesting point on Sunday.

Writing on Facebook, the Labour MEP said that “too many people (mostly Gozitans)” agree that development in Gozo has reached unsustainable levels. There must be some truth in this, as Gozo is fast becoming a smaller Malta and will lose the characteristics that attracted visitors, he said.

Sant then pointed to a contradiction that is being made, and he hit the nail on the head.

“I cannot understand how serious tourism promoters in Gozo on the one hand are concerned about this development aspect, and on the other hand are in favour of the monster project that seems to have been shelved – the tunnel between Malta and Gozo; or in favour of a project which has been resurrected when it should have been put aside forever: the building of an airport”.

Sant’s statement was in reference to a survey that was carried out by the Gozo Tourism Association which found that all establishments interviewed are worried about over-development.

There is absolutely no doubt that Gozo is losing its charm, that it is being ruined by greed, that the character and look of Gozo which once appealed to many is slowly deteriorating.

Xlendi, Marsalforn, Qbajjar are some examples of the ever-changing look of the island. There are others. Over-development is a problem that Malta is no longer facing on its own, as Gozo is being effected.

But then, if Gozo is already being built up to a degree which Gozitans themselves aren’t happy with… why push for a tunnel. The tunnel will result in a further intensification of development as it would make it far easier for people to travel between the two islands with their vehicles.

This would mean more congestion and more people moving to live in Gozo, which in turn would mean more apartments… more construction.

This would be fine if we had a Planning Authority that actually planned something out, but realistically speaking what we can expect is more hotchpotch development with a mismatch of different heights, blank walls and no uniformity in design.

Now the argument that Gozo is too insulated and that its difficult for Gozitans to work in Malta is true. But here’s the thing, we cannot have it both ways. If we improve connectivity to Gozo, then an intensification in development will likely happen. If connectivity is not improved, then more young Gozitans are likely to move to Malta.

So then what’s the solution? Well for one, perhaps improving the fast ferry system might help with the insularity problem on its own. That is something which could be looked into.

Alternatively, We could actually revamp the planning authority and turn it into what it actually should be… a planning authority. One which looks at streetscapes, preserve3s the character of the area, understands what an ugly building looks like.

 

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