An application to convert an agricultural field in a picturesque valley in Għasri into a poultry farm has irked residents in the area as well as the locality’s council, with objections to the proposed development highlighting that the site falls outside of the development zone (ODZ).
The applicant, Louis Cauchi, is not a registered farmer, according to the Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC), further raising concerns that the proposed development is a front for what will eventually be turned into a residence enjoying unique views.
The AAC has asked for further proof of relevant technical experience, know-how and has called for a defined waste management plan for the proposed development. The application, PA/8720/21, is open to the public’s submissions until 1 February, 2022.
In its objection to the project, Għasri’s local council emphasised its “objection in principle” based on an increasing trend of similar applications seeking to develop agricultural land in the area. It also highlighted, along with other people objecting to the development, the fact that residencies lie less than a hundred metres away from the proposed poultry farm site.
“First and foremost the locality of Għasri is being targeted with these types of developments, which are objectionable in principle. The council has already formally also objected to proposed developments forming part of PA/05567/19, PA/00887/20 and PA/00761/21,” according to the objection filed.
The three other applications the council referred to are an application in Wied is-Seqer which seeks to build a sheep farm and a farmer’s dwelling on top of it, a sheep farm in Ta’ Żjażra, and a poultry farm in Triq Dun Karm Caruana, respectively.
Citing the Planning Authority’s (PA) environmental protection and rural policy guidelines, the council argued that such development must be “of a high quality rural design” and must respect the context of its surroundings.
The council further argues that such development in such an area would only be considered favourably in the PA’s own rule book if it is occurring on a site which is converting old, disused buildings, which are in fact present in the area.
“The Authority should also note the cumulative impact of these separate developments. In each and every case a new application is basing itself on a previous permit that would have been issued. These applications are changing the appearance of the locality which is known for its scenic beauty,” the council’s statement adds.
The applications for the sheep farm and dwelling in Wied is-Seqer and the poultry farm in Triq Dun Karm Caruana are both being fronted by construction tycoon Joseph Portelli’s go-to architect, Alex Bigeni.
In a story published by The Shift two weeks ago, Bigeni was also mentioned as the architect fronting a screening application for a 12,000sqm extension to an abandoned quarry in Dwejra filed on behalf of freshly minted Maltese passport holder Vijay Kumar Berlia.