Development in Malta has hit a new confusing (and controversial) point, it seems, as a new plan for Wied Għomor would have three office blocks built instead of a farm bang in the middle of the protected (and very much ODZ) valley.
While the site already houses three blocks of a now disused cow farm, an application submitted for assessment by the Planning Authority lays down the buildings’ conversion into office space… along with excavations for parking facilities and the paving over much of the land between two of the blocks, Times of Malta reported.
As one might expect, the plans have already come under fire by a number of bodies
NGOS like Flimkien Għall Ambjent Aħjar and Din L-Art Ħelwa have already come out against the development.
While FAA stated the project would “severely compromise these ecologically sensitive areas and result in their eventual ruin through incremental urbanisation”, Din L-Art Ħelwa looked instead at the valley’s wildlife. The new office blocks, the NGO argued, would cause great disruptions with their artificial lighting, not to mention increase flooding in the area due to the addition of hard paving to the area. The narrow country roads, they added, will also not be able to deal with the increased volume of traffic.
Swieqi’s Local Council also condemned the proposal, calling it an “arrogant imposition on an ODZ valley, in complete disregard for the quality of the surroundings or for the natural environment, which is unfortunately under constant pressure for development”. In a moment of absolute (and beautiful) shade, the council went on to say that the office blocks’ design wasn’t even much of an improvement on the current “repugnant” blocks.
Coming in with its own criticism of the project, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) said the development would result in “inevitable visual impacts and scarring of the natural surrounding areas”, something which Wied Għomor has been in danger of for years now.
Some 100 members of the public also submitted objections to the project.
This isn’t even the first controversial development project targeting Wied Għomor this week
August ended with St. Julian’s deputy mayor Albert Buttiġieġ raising concerns about four applications in the area, one of which for a seven-storey apartment block to be built on the valley side.
“Although each application has a different applicant and architect, I find it very strange that they were all submitted within the same two weeks. Something is going on,” Buttiġieġ lamented on Facebook. “Turning St. Julian’s into a slum area?”
The St. Julian’s deputy mayor continued by condemning people who, in his eyes, “wanted their wrong-doings sanctioned”.