Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 January, 2022 at 2:13 pm by Andre Camilleri
The Planning Authority has suspended a decision on a controversial plan for the construction of apartment blocks on arable land in a rural area of Nadur over concerns on who owns the land in question.
The project at hand was the “proposed excavation of site to required levels, proposed construction of basement garages to accommodate 61 car spaces and 40 overlying residential apartments and 11 penthouses, including landscaping” on a site in Triq il-Qortin in Nadur.
The initial application, revealed by The Malta Independent last year, 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 on a tract of agricultural land which is within the development zone, having been included in the controversial 2006 rationalisation scheme.
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 in September, with downscaled plans submitted last June, and then later on in the year.
The Planning Authority’s case officer recommended that the project be given the green light.
However, an objector said that part of the land was his mother’s, as per a will which was exhibited during the meeting, and that while the applicant had said that they had permission from the owners, nobody had approached him or his family to seek such permission.
On their part, lawyer Carmel Galea representing Carravan Company Ltd – whom he said owned all of the land in question – said that the applicant, Titan Developments Ltd, had entered into a Promise of Sale agreement with the company and therefore had its permission to develop the land.
Galea claimed that because there were a large number of objectors to the case, they expected to “ride roughshod” over the “rights of the owner.”
Planning Commission board member Stephania Baldacchino however took a cautious stand on the matter, and said that the board is not the competent authority to certify who the owner of the land is.
The board elected to refer the case to the Planning Authority’s legal office for their advice on the ownership issue, and that till then, the case would be suspended.
A number of representatives from NGOs also addressed the hearing, speaking out against the project.
Simone Azzopardi, a Nadur resident and the President of Ghaqda Ambjentali Ghawdex, appealed to the PA not to consider this application as it would continue to cause the “zombie urbanism” of Gozo, with many of these apartments being bought as second homes and left empty for most of the year.
The mayor of Nadur, Edward Said, also objected to the project, describing it as a “monster” and stating that they do not believe that the project is being built in a primary urban area but is in a rural area – which it does not characterise.
Said said that the council had also wanted this proposal to come before the Planning Board so that the council can be represented, but said that they had heard nothing on this point, “so we have as much say as anyone else.”
The mayor, along with two other residents, also raised concerns on the impact that the project would have on the drainage system in the area.
“This is a monster being proposed in this rural area, and does not augur well for other similar rural areas in Gozitan villages,” Said added.
Another objector pointed out how several entities such as the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, Transport Malta, and the Environment & Resources Authority are still waiting for information from the applicant, and questioned how a decision could be taken when these authorities are still waiting for such information.
It was also commented on how the case officer had seemingly omitted or ignored certain points filed by objectors, including those related to ownership and to the drainage issues which were explained by the local council.