A plot of agricultural land near a hotly-contested area adjacent to Sqaq M.U.S.E.U.M. in Dingli is the site of a development application for a two-storey terraced house with a pool.
The application, filed by Keith Attard Portughes on behalf of ICI Ltd, a real estate development company, seeks to build a residential dwelling and an accompanying pool just a few metres away from a site in which activists had held a three-week standoff with Infrastructure Malta (IM).
The new application (PA/00305/22) is based on another, previous development application (PA/01673/17) that was already approved in 2018, in spite of the objections raised by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) as well as NGOs Din L-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar and Nature Trust.
The application that was approved in 2018 did not feature a pool, was filed by a different applicant named Victor Bonavia, and held a smaller footprint covering 172sqm instead of the 296sqm of Outside Development Zone (ODZ) agricultural land that would be taken up as a result of the new application. A reservoir will also be demolished in the process.
The site’s history also shows that Bonavia has been attempting to develop the plot into a terraced house since at least 2007. At the time, MEPA, now known as the Planning Authority (PA), had refused the application, with the refusal being confirmed by the appeals tribunal when the applicants argued that similar permits had been granted before.
In March of last year, activists and residents from the area had physically stopped works which were being carried out by Infrastructure Malta because hired contractors did not carry permits for the works being carried out while also attempting to safeguard mature trees that faced the chop so the road could be built.
Additionally, many of the residents felt like the development of a road adjoining Sqaq M.U.S.E.U.M, Triq is-Sienja and Triq San Gwann Bosco was unnecessary and a prelude to further development in the area. In spite of significant opposition, the construction of the road went ahead and has since been finished.
One of the objectors who has already filed a representation against the latest application argued that “many suspected that the useless and unneeded road built in this area was simply a ploy for more development, and this application confirms as much”.