Zurrieq ODZ development plans withdrawn by project architect

Updated with the withdrawal of the planning application by the project architect

Plans to built an old people’s home on a 14,000 square metre plot in an outside development zone in Zurrieq have been withdrawn.

The project architect withdrew the application before the deadline of submission of objections, which was on 29 May.

Three local councils – Safi, Zurrieq and Kirkop – had come together to file a unified objection against the project, which was also contested by a group called Save L-Ghadir ODZ.

On their Facebook page set up to object to the project, the organisers thanked all those who supported the cause.

“The battle is won…This is only the beginning. We sought and found the help of serious NGOs that know the game. A shout out to Moviment Graffitti who are our heroes. Let us remain alert and keep on protecting l-Għadir and our rural heritage.”

Situated next to LIDL and St Benedict’s College in Zurrieq, the site in question is a 14,000 square metre land, known as L-Għadir, which sits right between Zurrieq, Kirkop and Safi.

The project consisted of a three-storey building with 129 rooms built on recessed floors with an underground car park. The application was filed in December by Noel Bonnici, who is also listed as the owner of the land. Edwin Mintoff is the project architect.

The proposed development immediately was met with harsh resistance.ThroughSave l-Għadir ODZ, the objections quickly gained momentum. The land falls under the responsibility of Zurrieq local council, which was among the first to speak out against the project. It was soon joined by the Kirkop and Safi councils.

Kirkop council members who spoke to The Shift confirmed said the three localities intended to file one united objection to this development.

The three councils had also called on their neighbours Mqabba and Qrendi to join their cause and voice their objection.

“This area serves as the natural lung for the residents of the surrounding villages,” Alexis Callus and Saviour Sammut said on Facebook.

Besides its agricultural value, the site also has interesting links to the area’s history. “The site includes paths from which farmers would pass to store hay. We don’t exclude the possibility that this area might be home to historical graves as some were already discovered in that same road in the past.”

“Should this development be given the green light, it will create a precedent for future developments and an area of virgin land will be consumed by urban sprawl,” they said.

The developer has shown very little sympathy to the objections brought against this huge development. In the last couple of days, the planning permit notification was removed from the site. They even put up a gate to close off the area from the public.

Access to the site has been closed off by a gate.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and hundreds of private individuals have expressed their support to the cause.

Moviment Graffiti was one of the first to openly express its support for the cause. It was recently joined by Spazji Miftuha, a coalition of 22 NGOs. There is also an online petition that has more than 500 signatures.

The Regional Council of the South, a government entity incorporating 14 local councils, has also pledged its support saying that it would object to the development proposed on ODZ land.

The consultation period to submit objections with the Planning Authority ends on 29 May.


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