Decision on Wied Għomor development to be known next month

The Planning Authority’s Environment and Planning Review Tribunal today heard the appeal on the development of an old people’s home in Wied Għomor and its decision will be made public on 1 March.

After several years of disuse the quarry has regenerated itself. The valley is the only open and green space in the overbuilt and heavily polluted area of St Julian’s, Swieqi and San Ġwann .

The tribunal met following an appeal submitted by the developer after he was refused permission to develop the disused quarry in May 2016 by the Planning Authority’s board despite the Planning Directorate recommendation for approval.

The original application included a proposal for the construction of a 133-room old people’s home with all ancillary services, the dimensions of which would occupy 8% of the quarry but rise two storeys above the hole. Moreover, a road from San Ġwann through the valley into Victoria Gardens would need to be constructed to facilitate access.

But Planning Authority chairman Vince Cassar objected to the design of the project and claimed that the project clashes with SPED policies limiting development to urban area.

The development is opposed by residents, civil society and local councils who presented the authority with a petition signed by some 5,000 people.

In April, Environment Minister José Herrera proposed that the valley, along with Indawar Nature Park near Żonqor Point, should be included in the list of sites protected under the Public Domain Act.

The law, introduced in 2015, allows citizens and NGOs to recommend sites to be listed as public domain, guaranteeing public access and limiting new development.

Wied Għomor, already a scheduled area of ecological and scientific importance, is under siege from an unprecedented barrage of applications for new developments with at least seven applications submitted for developments in the ODZ area in 2016 alone.

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