The Malta Independent 17 June 2024, Monday
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Application to redevelop abandoned complex into villas will have negative impact - watchdog

Monday, 18 September 2023, 08:21 Last update: about 10 months ago

The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH) has expressed concern over a proposal that would lead to the redevelopment of an abandoned tourist complex into six villas on a road leading to Mizieb.

The application was filed by CF Developers Ltd, in which Joseph Portelli is one of the shareholders. The application proposes the demolition of the existing approved agricultural shed/glasshouse, apartments and restaurant and proposes the construction of six residential dwellings, including the construction of pools and rubble walls. The site, known as sunshine, is located just off Triq il-Palma in Mellieha.

When describing the impact on the cultural landscape, the SCH noted “with concern that the existing development has already led to an impact on the surrounding rural and cultural landscape. The current proposal will lead to further consolidation and formalisation of the site, having a negative impact on the rural and cultural landscape.

It said that the site proposed for development is situated “within the context of a pristine rural and cultural landscape outside the development zone, in the limits of Mellieha.

It also said that the site is situated along a natural ridge within the areas known as Id-Dar il-Bajda and Ta’ l-Argentier. “The site has a degree of archaeological sensitivity with known cart ruts and other features recorded within this area along the ridge. A series of possible cave formations are also situated along the ridge towards the west.”

Considering this, it said that “without prejudice to the final decision of the Superintendence regarding this application, any works as may eventually be approved may need to be archaeologically monitored.

The SCH said that while drawings submitted by the architect indicate a ‘permit footprint’, no specific permits in relation to this ‘footprint’ have been included. “The architect is to clarify this matter and submit revised plans that specifically indicate any permits covering the existing structures, proposed to be replaced by the current proposal. Material proof in terms of relevant approved drawings for any existing permits is to be submitted.

The SCH has requested further documentation from the architect, and reserved comment on all aspects of the proposal.

 

 

The site itself had seen a number of applications filed in the past which were either refused or withdrawn. The SCH had mentioned three. The first, in 1991, was for the extension of a restaurant, which was refused. The second was in 2005 and was for the demolition of the existing complex (tourist) /restaurant /apartments and the construction of tourist accommodation. This application was withdrawn. The next application was filed in 2008, proposing the demolition of the existing tourist complex, night club/restaurant and mushroom farm and the construction of 13 residential units including basement parking, soft landscaping and a pool in each dwelling. This application was also withdrawn.

 

The 2008 application, prior to it being withdrawn, had seen the Planning Authority’s case officer recommend its refusal.

Din L-Art Helwa has objected to the current application. It said that it “strongly objects to the further take-up and formalization of ODZ land through requests that can neither be deemed necessary nor justified and which stand to threaten the integrity of the rural environment. The request for the development of 6 new residential dwellings on a site which is a visually sensitive ODZ site is completely irregular and unacceptable in principle.”

“Such use can under no circumstances be deemed necessary in the rural area and goes directly against the provisions of TO1.10 of the SPED. The legality of the claimed existing apartments is also being contested, rendering the request in breach of the most principle criteria of policy 6.2C under which any such application would need to be considered to be approved. There is absolutely no justification for the introduction of a dwelling on this remote rural site for a use that can and should be accommodated within the scheme,” DLH said.

Documents filed with the application show that the total existing footprint is 1,883 square metres, but shows that there is a lower footprint that was permitted – 1,527 sqm. The existing footprint covers the apartments, restaurant, agricultural shed/glasshouse and the farmhouse.

“Given the above, the application also runs counter to TO1.10: 1: To manage the available potential space and environmental resources on land and sea sustainably to ensure that socio-economic development needs are met whilst protecting the environment and limiting land take up within the Rural Area,” it said, also quoting another provision which reads: “Socio-economic development should ensure that rural areas are not exploited by uses which are not legitimate necessary.”

 

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