Owner of steel fabrication business now another sheep farmer in Gozo

The suspicion is that the applications for farms are being used to develop ‘farmhouse residences’ in ODZ.

 

The owner of a Gozitan steel fabrication business is set to expand his horizons into agriculture after the Planning Authority approved his bid to build a sheep farm on outside development zone (ODZ) land in Għasri, Gozo.

The applicant withdrew an earlier sheep farm application on the same plot of land following a recommendation for refusal.

But this time, it was approved despite another round of recommendations for refusal and concerns raised by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.

The sheep farm was designed by architect Alexander Bigeni, who The Shift reported last week has been behind almost two out of every three sheep farm applications in Gozo since mid-2022. Bigeni is a relative of Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri, who has been given the planning portfolio in the last government reshuffle.

NGOs Għaqda Bdiewa Attivi and Din L-Art Ħelwa, who spoke to The Shift last week, expressed doubts about the veracity of most of these applications, calling for stricter control and monitoring.

Asked about the apparent authenticity of some of the applications last week, DLĦ President Alex Torpiano said that while this may be the case for some, “the high number of applications is nevertheless suspicious.”

The suspicion is that the applications for farms are being used to develop ‘farmhouse residences’ in areas outside development zones.

George Grech, known as Taċ-Ċoċċ of GGC Steel Fabrication, first applied for the construction of a sheep farm with “a farmer’s dwelling on top” on the Għasri plot of land in 2019.

After the initial application was withdrawn, a follow-up (PA/4905/20) was submitted in 2020. The Għasri Local Council objected to the development, noting how “the locality is being targeted with these types of developments, which are objectionable in principle.”

The sheep farm’s architect even submitted a revised plan of the area, noting the Planning Authority’s approval of nearby livestock farms as justification for his client’s proposal’s approval.

A revised block plan submitted by Bigeni shows similar developments in the area.

The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage also raised concerns about the proposal, questioning its “intensification of development on ODZ” and urging the Authority to “safeguard the natural and cultural landscape.”

In 2020, a case officer report on the latest application recommended its refusal, given Grech “is not registered with the Veterinary Regulation Directorate as a livestock farmer.” The report also raised issues of hygiene and visual impact.

An update to the report the following year noted how the architect, Bigeni, requested that the application be suspended. Following a three-month suspension period, the application was reinstated.

Grech, meanwhile, had completed an MCAST course in sheep husbandry required by the Planning Authority.

The sheep farm was subsequently approved in 2022.

The Shift contacted Grech to ask how the property was being used, to which he replied, “It is a private affair which I wouldn’t speak to just anyone over the phone about.” He refused to comment further.

Last week, The Shift reported the high number of Gozitan sheep farm applications submitted through Bigeni, one of Malta’s most prolific architects with close ties to Gozo and Planning Minister Clint Camilleri, Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli, and the incumbent Labour Party government.

                           

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8 Comments
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Mark
Mark
2 months ago

Ma jistħux dawn in-nies? Mejtin bil-ġuħ.

Mark Debono
Mark Debono
2 months ago

The envelope must have been A4 and thicker this time?

Reality
Reality
2 months ago

Moghoz ghall- moghoz. Isthu dejjem taraw kif tisirqu l-poplu malti u ghawdxi minn ftit art vergni li fadal. Is- serq ta dan il- muvument korrott hija bla qies. ISTHU.

M.Galea
M.Galea
2 months ago

Xi hmieg ta pajjiz!

Tom borg
Tom borg
2 months ago

This guy must be related to Cardinal Mario. Grech, tac cocc, sheep.

David
David
2 months ago

Dan jigi kugin ta Ras Kbira. Probably he is untouchable.

Joe l ghasfur
Joe l ghasfur
2 months ago

Hokkli dahri u nhoklok dahrek, mhux hekk sur ministru kacatur. Viva labour!!!

Alfred
Alfred
2 months ago

Why not a pigs farms?

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