Residents are opposing the application to demolish the former Halland Hotel overlooking Wide Ghomor in Ibrag to replace it with a residential complex (PA/02479/16) and have called on the public to file their objections by Friday 23 March.
The application filed by architect Ray Demicoli proposes to demolish the existing hotel, “excavate the rock to accommodate parking levels and to erect a high quality residential complex and landscaping of adjoining land.”
The Malta Resources Authority has said it will not file an objection given that the site is located within a development zone. It said the site redevelopment was considered as “acceptable in principle from an environmental point of view”.
However, residents who spoke to The Shift News said part of the area on which the proposed development is to be built is on ODZ land, with one part of the proposed development extending some 11 metres into the valley which environment minister Jose Herrera wants to protect under the Public Domain Act.
Residents said that although the application claims that the land is owned by the applicant, the area marked on the site plan is actually a public pathway.
The upper part of this lane is accessible to vehicles and the rest is a pedestrian path along the edge of the valley. This ODZ land is not owned by the applicant, Raymond Fenech, who is proposing to acquire this lane and turn it into a two-way ramp leading to his proposed car park.
Residents told The Shift News that this would deprive the public and farmers access to the valley and fields. They said the proposed ramp can easily be built on the current footprint of the hotel and this would guarantee the public free access to the valley.
They added that although the proposed development is mainly in a development zone it overlooks Wied Ghomor and pointed out that the North Harbour Local Plan which includes policies for Ibrag, allows only 30% maximum built up area of the site. However, the proposal submitted is for no less than 70%.