An application for an 18-unit residential apartment block, pool, supermarket, retail shop and three underground levels of car parking on Outside Development Zone (ODZ) land in Għajnsielem, Gozo, is seeking Planning Authority approval, enlarging plans proposed in an application on the same land withdrawn last year.
Gozitan environmental NGO Għawdix called on the public to oppose the project, chastising “applicants and architects who keep disrespecting the principles of planning policies and ignoring the value of ODZ areas”.
Despite a substantial part of the plans falling outside the Għajnsielem development zone boundary, the application (PA/4619/23) declares not to be on ODZ land, using the portion of the development lying within the boundary to justify the whole development.
The area inside the boundary was included as part of the development zone in late 2013 following a Planning Authority decision based on the 2006 ‘Rationalization Exercise’.
If approved, the application will see the construction of three underground parking levels, a retail outlet abutting Triq l-Imġarr and a supermarket directly behind it at ground level.
On the first, second and third floors, 18 apartment units would be constructed, with a communal swimming pool on the roof of the supermarket.
Francesco Grima filed the application on behalf of Prestige Services Ltd. Alexander Bigeni is serving as the architect for the project.
Grima also owns real estate development and construction company Elzan Properties, based in Victoria, Gozo.
Għawdix raised concerns about how the remaining portion of ODZ land behind the proposed development will be used given previous, now withdrawn, plans (PA/4172/22) proposed greenhouses and a plant nursery there.
Għawdix also noted that neighbouring buildings are only one-to-two storeys high, with the four-storey proposal resulting “in a massive blank party wall” and a design that “jars with that which characterises the surrounding dwellings”.
The group said, “The interventions proposed beyond the development zone will result in a significant update of undeveloped land, urban sprawl into ODZ, site formalisation and negative visual impacts on the surrounding environment.”
Given the substantial size of the development, an Enemalta submission to the application page declared that the development should include an electricity distribution substation as required by law.
Commenting on the area in question in a reply filed on the previous version of the application, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage stated, “The area is of considerable archaeological sensitivity being located within 38m of two Neolithic domestic structures”.
“The Superintendence immediately expresses concern at the considerable intensification of development as proposed. The extensive excavation as proposed would inevitably destroy surviving features on site,” it said.
While PA/4619/23 is awaiting a Planning Authority case officer recommendation, it has amassed dozens of objections. Għawdix has called on the public to raise their objections to the project through their online form.