Change local plan for Ħondoq and declare Gozitan gem public domain, mayor says

Qala mayor Paul Buttigieg calls on MPs to declar Ħondoq ir-Rummien public domain and grant it the protection from development it deserves

Qala mayor Paul Buttigieg
Qala mayor Paul Buttigieg

Qala’s mayor Paul Buttigieg has once again reiterated the local council’s call for the Ħondoq ir-Rummien valley to be declared public domain, with all the protection that goes with such a designation. 

“The wish of many Gozitans, Maltese, and people that love our islands, remains the same – to protect Ħondoq from development and speculation. To keep Ħondoq free for the public to enjoy for ever,” Buttigieg said, who has made the protection of the Gozitan valley his lifelong mission. 

“All the political parties have stated that Ħondoq should be protected,” Buttigieg said in his most recent statement. 

“We are requesting that these words be put into action. No more delaying tactics, but the implementation of a plan to protect Ħondoq, and fulfil the wishes of thousands of people, including 85% of Qalin who voted against the development of this jewel, in a referendum.” 

Buttigieg said the Qala council wants the House of Representatives to pass a resolution so that Ħondoq be declared public domain, with all the protection that goes with public domain.  

“Go to parliament and change the local plan – the same as you did in recent years when you changed property heights to be higher in  Dingli; when you changed the local plan for Ta’ Qali which became a zone for commercial purposes with higher height limitations; and also when Ħal-Ferh became a residential zone instead of a tourist zone,” Buttigieg said. 

“The local plans can be changed for environmental and social purposes - and the protection of Ħondoq is a perfect example of changing a local plan for environmental, social and community reasons.” 

The owners of the land at Ħondoq ir-Rummien have told government ministers they will relinquish their rights to the land they want developed into a massive 200-yacht marina with hotel and villas, for €17 million.  

Gozo Prestige Holidays, which is owned by businessman Victor Bajada, has told the Maltese government, informed the government it is now open to discussing a resolution – possibly a sale of the land to the State – to resolve the impasse on their Ħondoq plans.  

The company originally acquired the land from the Dominican Order for just €23,000 (Lm10,000) in 1988, at a full sale price of €1.5 million should the company be awarded a development permit for its yacht marina.  

At the rate of valuation, Gozo Prestige Holidays would stand to have a return of 11 times over its original purchase price.  

But since its attempts at obtaining planning permission, Gozo Prestige has always failed in obtaining his coveted permit.  

Buttigieg said the European Courts have declared that local plans can be changed without need for compensation. “Take this step so we will know for sure who is listening to us and who genuinely has the environment at heart.”