The Malta Independent 18 July 2024, Thursday
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PA approves application for development overlooking Ggantija temples despite UNESCO request

Thursday, 9 November 2023, 15:15 Last update: about 9 months ago

The Planning Authority has approved an application that will see 22 apartments and 20 garages built on the edge of the Xagħra Development Zone, ignoring a request by UNESCO.

The site is less than 200m away from the Ggantija temples. It currently consists of an existing two storey building with an ancillary garage and stores, and with undeveloped land at the rear. The front of the site overlooks Triq il-Parsott.

In a note submitted by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage last February, the superintendence said: "Please note that UNESCO's World Heritage Centre in a letter to Malta's Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, has insisted in accordance with the Operational Guidelines, a Heritage Impact Assessment should be carried out for this development."

The Planning Commission had suspended the case for six months due to this.

However, an updated case officer's report filed in September, reads: "The Planning Commission may wish to note that no information has been submitted following SCH doc 2058a (the document containing the aforementioned SCH statement).  In view of this, the Post Recommendation Team has nothing to assess (...) Application referred for the Board's further consideration."

The request by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre had come after the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Technical Committee had noted that the latest proposal had adequately addressed concerns the two had previously outlined and had said that they had no objection to the propose drawings, and after Heritage Malta also considered that the latest proposal is "compatible with the management plan of Ġgantija and that it will not negatively impact on the site's Outstanding Universal Value, a key component of inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site."

MaltaToday reports that on Thursday's sitting, PA chairman Emmanuel Camilleri said heritage impact assessments were not in the remit of the authority, that UNESCO never communicated directly with the PA and that the Superintendence never withdrew its consent for the development.

The Board has now approved the application.



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