ODZ Zebbug villas proposed instead of farm building of dubious legality

Although the area is designated as an area of high landscape value and a rural conservation area, it includes within it a building of dubious legality which was built in the 1980s.

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s Cultural Heritage Advisory  (CHAC) committee is “strongly” objecting to the development of two villas over 658 square metres to be built on two floors in an ODZ area in Bordin lane in Zebbug.

Although the area is designated as an area of high landscape value and a rural conservation area, it includes within it a building of dubious legality which was built in the 1980s.

The CHAC considers the newly proposed development as a case of “urbanisation within the rural landscape” and is strongly objecting to the proposal.

The two villas are being proposed by entrepreneur Mark Gasan to replace an abandoned pre-1992 farm building.

In 2011 MEPA had rejected an application for a smaller development on the same site. But in 2013 the MEPA’s appeal board had issued an outline permit for a one storey residential unit over a floor area of 120 square metres.

Aerial photos submitted during the processing of the application showed that the existing pre-1992 farm building had in fact been constructed before 1988 and that no PAPB permits were ever traced for this development. A permit for a villa was issued in 1986 but was never executed and the older structures were retained.

In the appeal the architect argued that the new development constituted an improvement over the existing illegal development and should have been considered as an “opportunity to substitute it with a building which is more in harmony with surroundings.”

In approving the one-storey development the tribunal accepted the argument that the small-scale development represented an improvement over the present situation.

Under MEPA’s new rural policy old buildings can be considered legal only if constructed before 1978. Objectors to the development have pointed out that 1978 aerial photos show only a small rural room towards the north east of the site. The policy also permits pre-1992 livestock farms but an objector is claiming that the site was used only as a poultry farm. 

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