Naxxar local council to join residents opposing ODZ development proposed by one of its councillors

The Naxxar Local council will be joining residents in objecting to the development of an old people’s home to be built on agricultural land located between Għargħur and Naxxar.

Contacted by The Shift, Naxxar Mayor Anne Marie Muscat Fenech Adami confirmed that the council members voted in favour of objecting to this project, which would see another green area lost to development.

“We are in favour of having more old people’s home, but we are never in favour of having development on ODZ land,” she said.

The development proposes the transformation of a disused pig farm into a three-storey old people’s home.

The applicant for this project is developer Marlon Brincat who is a Labour Party member of the same local council.

Contacted by The Shift, Brincat said he had immediately flagged his conflict of interest before the council’s vote on the proposed old people’s home.

Mayor Muscat Fenech Adami corroborated Brincat’s claim and confirmed that he had not attended any council meetings or voted on this development.

Brincat said he made sure that the application for development is in his name, to ensure that the process is “transparent”.

The site of the proposed development. Photo: Environmental Impact Assessment report.

When asked why he proposed building on ODZ land, Brincat said the site is also listed as a “committed urban development area”.

The Environment and Resources Authority had objected to the development, which was presented before the Planning Authority in 2017.

Following an environmental impact assessment, it was determined that the development would severely impact the surrounding landscape, and the Planning Authority warned it would set a precedent for similar developments in rural areas.

Nearby residents have worked to convince the Planning Authority to reject this application since 2017. In a letter sent to the former Executive Chairman of the Planning Authority, Johann Buttigieg, the residents labelled the proposed project, a “development too far”.

Residents noted that they have developed their residences, abiding by the regulations laid out by the Authority. “To do this, we had to invest substantially more in our houses to maintain this balance of reasonable living without expanding the footprints,” according to the residents’ letter.

The letter also notes that the disused buildings were built without a permit. An application to turn the site into garages with rooms on top was previously rejected. “We understand that those objections are still relevant today in the case of this application,” the residents wrote.

The residents also identified an issue with the access road leading to this proposed development. Sqaq l-Imnieqa, a narrow road with ancient wells beneath, is currently used by farmers and residents but the new development will bring in heavy traffic, they said.

The Shift met with a home owner in the area, one of a group of residents who are mounting a defence against the proposed old people’s home.

The resident claimed that the only available road is frequently the site of car accidents due to a hazardous blind spot for drivers coming out of a narrow street onto the main road.

“The project aims to cater to 90 residents. I can’t imagine having so many cars coming out of this dangerous road,” the resident said.

Due to the road being dangerous, an earlier proposal to set up a ‘bring-in waste site’ along the road was rejected. On the same basis, the development of a cafe located in the tower in the corner of the road was also turned down.

“There are another eight similar homes in the areas of Naxxar and Mosta. Do we really need to ruin another piece of ODZ land to construct another one?” the resident told The Shift.

Also, an old people’s home, which opened recently, sits across the road from Sqaq l-Imnieqa. The Naxxar Local Council had also objected to this development, but the project received permission to be built.

In a letter to the Planning Authority, residents argued that the proposed development will bring about further urban sprawl and disfigure the valley between Naxxar and Għargħur.

The application for development is still under review. The mayor said she will be meeting with residents in the near future to discuss the way forward.

The proposed three-storey development will sit on 2,700 square metres, and the home will include 95 beds in 47 rooms.

                           
                               
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