Kalkara buffer earmarked for 10-villa development project

Villas proposed instead of cluster of roofless buildings on plot currently having low degree of protection as an ecological buffer zone to the Rinella valley

A complex of 10 dwellings with extensive paved area is being proposed on 19,000sq.m of ODZ land in close vicinity to Smart City in Kalkara.

The villas are being proposed instead of a cluster of roofless dilapidated old buildings interspersed on a plot of land which currently enjoys a low degree of protection as an ecological buffer zone to the Rinella valley.

It also includes a protected British defence post - which will not be touched by the proposed development - and is in close proximity to the scheduled red house. If the project is approved the existing ruins will be demolished in their entirety.

The development proposed by Duncan Deguara Attard, presented as the “reconstruction of dilapidated buildings” to be used as “residential dwellings”, is being proposed on a plot fronting Triq Santu Rokku, Sqaq Tewma and Triq Joseph Calleia. In the application Deguara declared that he does not own the entire site but has been granted the consent of the owners to apply.

The application also foresees the construction of a 2.4m-high boundary wall around the site as well as the planting of rows of cypress, olive, pine and Judas trees. Present policies allow owners of ODZ dwellings to apply for swimming pools once the development is approved. But no pools are being proposed at this stage.

A discredited rural policy approved in 2014 permits the conversion of countryside ruins in to villas if developers can prove that the original buildings served as dwellings. It was the public outrage at the approval of a villa with pool instead of a ruin in Qala in Gozo which added urgency to a revamp of the 2014 policy commenced following a probe of ODZ permits by MaltaToday in 2016.

A proposed new policy launched by Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia last year does away with this controversial loophole. But the policy still has to be approved. In April a spokesperson for the PA attributed the delay in the approval of the new policy to the time needed to assess the “voluminous” submissions it has received.

The policy will require another round of pub- lic consultation before the policy is given the seal of approval by the government. The policy as proposed will apply to all pending applications but until the policy is approved, planning commissions will still assess applications according to the discredited policy.