Tribunal rejects appeal against Lija four-storey development facing ODZ land

Last Updated on Friday, 12 May, 2023 at 8:18 pm by Andre Camilleri

The Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT) rejected the appeal against the development of a four-storey apartment block with 65 residential units facing outside the development zone (ODZ) land in Lija on Friday.

The site is located at St Joseph Farm, which faces two roads, Triq il-Mithna and Triq Depiro-Gourgion, right on the edge of the development zone. The application includes the proposed demolition of existing structures and uprooting of existing vegetation, excavation of 3 basement private parking levels and the construction of 163 garages, 17 maisonettes at level 0, 18 apartments at level 1, 18 apartments at level 2 and overlying 12 penthouses. The application was filed after a Planning Control Application had been approved.

Although this development was objected to by a number of Lija residents and the local council, the PA granted a permit for this development in January 2022, after the case officer report recommended that this development be granted.

Following this decision, NGO Din l-Art Helwa (DLH) filed an appeal with the EPRT in February 2022.

In DLH’s appeal it argued that there has been a “Failure to ensure protection and enhancement of existing characteristic context, rural landscape and locality’s amenity,” and there has been a failure to adhere to Local Plan Limitations, among other points. However, the EPRT rejected all points brought forward by DLH.

The Lija local council had objected to this development before it was approved and said that the development will serve to “significantly alter” the character and integrity of this area on the edge of the Lija development zone.

The council highlighted that the density of the development, the intensification of traffic activity in the area, and the visual amenity impacts are considered to be inappropriate.

At the time the council was not alone in its concerns. The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH) had said: “Given the location, any development application proposed on this site should adopt an adequate transitional solution between the rural area in ODZ and the schemed area within the development zone. The SCH therefore recommends a more sensitive treatment in volumes as well as in design, in order to mitigate the impact of such development onto the surrounding landscape.”

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