Front Harsien calls for restrictive rural development guidelines

Describing Toni Bezzina’s Rabat application as ‘unacceptable’, Front Harsien ODZ warns that rural development guidelines open floodgates for development in ODZ areas

Miriam Dalli
14 February 2017, 11:19am
The ODZ site which Toni Bezzina wanted to develop
The ODZ site which Toni Bezzina wanted to develop
Front Harsien ODZ has called for the withdrawal of rural development guidelines, which open the floodgates for development in outside development zone areas.

The new rural development policy has already led to controversial development of villas and agricultural stores in the ODZ. Effectively these new policies have given new value to derelict structures in the ODZ.

On Sunday, the Labour media revealed how PN MP Toni Bezzina had applied to develop a three-bedroom house, complete with a swimming pool, in an ODZ area through an application submitted to restore dwellings. Bezzina has since withdrawn the application.

Front Harsien has welcomed how both the Labour and Nationalist, through their media statements, appear to be against ODZ applications for new dwellings in rural areas.

It described Bezzina’s application – which would have extended three roofless rooms to accommodate a completely new dwelling, a drive-in and a swimming pool – as “unacceptable”.

However, Front Harsien ODZ warned that a number of similar applications involving the reconstruction of countryside ruins have already been approved by the Planning Authority, thanks to the rural development guidelines approved in 2014.

"These guidelines facilitate ODZ development which could have a terrible cumulative impact on Malta's countryside. Given the recent statements by the two major political parties, we expect the government to ask the Planning Authority to replace the guidelines approved in 2014 with a more restrictive policy."

Front Harsien ODZ called for a clear ban on the reconstruction of countryside ruins to create new dwellings and for the repeal of policy 6.2.A. which permits the redevelopment of buildings with a historical or vernacular interest as dwellings and 6.2.C which permits the reconstruction of any building which existed prior to 1978.

"Rather than simply exposing such cases when it suits partisan interests as was the case with One TV, which is usually non-critical on ODZ development such as the Zonqor proposal, political parties are expected to make sure that policies do not pave the way for more construction in the countryside."

Front Harsien ODZ also called on all MPs on both sides, both as owners and in their professional role as architects not to exploit loopholes in existing policies to accommodate unsustainable ODZ developments.

Front Harsien ODZ has consistently objected to all unsustainable ODZ proposals in this regard.

Miriam Dalli joined in 2010 and was assistant editor fr...