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PA defends ‘inside development zone’ status for Zonqor university

Despite a substantial part of the development of The American University of Malta at Zonqor Point being outside developmental zones, it is still being listed as being 'inside development zone'

James Debono
22 September 2017, 8:00am
The American University of Malta campus at Zonqor Point in Marsaskala is still listed as being “inside development zone” on the Planning Authority website, despite the fact that a substantial part (18,000 sq.m) of the development is outside development zones and the application as presented by the developers clearly states that part of the site is ODZ.

The ODZ development will include eight dormitory blocks that will rise from four to nine levels and three multipurpose sports courts set upon a three level underground car park for nearly 500 cars.

A spokesperson for the PA justified the designation of the site of the new development as being inside the scheme by pointing out that “half the site lies within the Development Zone whilst the other half lies Outside the Development Zone” and that the Authority’s database only caters “for the selection of one code when categorizing an application.”

Moreover, according to the PA “this does not mean that the relevant policies would not be utilized when assessing the different components of the application”. 

In reality in most cases when an application has an ODZ component it is generally included in the list of ODZ applications. For example a hotel in Triq ir-Rabat, Marsalforn, of which only 45% was located in ODZ, was designated as being ODZ on the PA website when the application was presented in 2015.

Another similar case involved the development of a partly ODZ Lidl supermarket in Xewkija, which was also designated as ODZ.  

The Zonqor application was presented on 17 February 2017, two months before a general election during which no mention was made of the AUM project.

The application (04746/17) is still not included in the list of pending ODZ applications in Marsaskala on the PA website, and only appeared in the list of pending applications in Marsaskala some time in August.  

In August the application was listed as being “inside development zone” on the PA website when the developers themselves list the application as being both inside and outside development zones.

The Zonqor application is in fact still not visible when one searches the list of ODZ applications. Had MaltaToday not pointed out that an application had been presented after screening all applications presented in Marsaskala, few would have noticed it. This is because environmental NGOs generally screen applications in sensitive areas like Urban Conservation Areas and Outside Development Zones.

The application has still not been issued for public consultation. At that stage the PA will be obliged to put a site notice and the application will be published in the government gazette. It is only at that stage that NGOs and the public will be in a position to register themselves as registered objectors. But the application will not be included in the list of ODZ applications issued for public consultation every Wednesday on the PA website.

James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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