Mosta gains a public garden, but it will lose 80,000sq.m to development

The ‘Ċikku Fenech’ field that will become a public garden will be a reprieve for the future onslaught on 80,000sq.m of fields that Mosta will have to suffer

Mosta is facing a massive development onslaught over 80,000sq.m of undeveloped fields, in what will become a massive expansion of the town on the side closer to Ta’ Qali.

Earlier this week, the urban greening agency Greenserv announced it will convert a derelict field by one of the Mosta windmills into a new public garden.

Yet residents will be living in the shadow of two massive development projects that will affect their quality of life, as well as that of the village itself. Much of it is the continued result of the 2006 expansion of development boundaries.

A sprawling piece of agricultural land of 40,000sq.m that separates Mosta from the Durumblat Road in Attard, known as tad-Dib, is targeted for a massive development project by a group of landholders in the area.

The plans for the Tad-Dib land
The plans for the Tad-Dib land

The land had been included in development boundaries back in 2006, when the Nationalist administration of the time added it to the building zones in one of the most controversial government actions of the time to benefit large and small landowners who were unable to develop fields like these.

The Planning Authority had already rejected a similar application at Tad-Dib in 2017, with Alternattiva Demokratika chairperson Carmel Cacopardo representing Mosta residents objecting to the development. The latest plans are still for three-storey housing, but with a public space of 905sq.m.

Another area next to Tad-Dib, known as Ta’ Mellu, is also being zoned for 17.5m-high development across 36,000sq.m of agricultural land. This too had been included in the 2006 building zones extension. The proposed development will include two public open spaces, together amounting to 1,839sq.m; while 22,000sq.m will be developed and the rest of the site will be taken up by roads and front gardens.

The owners of the site include hotelier and developer Anglu Xuereb, and landowner Salvino Testaferrata Moroni Viani.

The Mosta local council had called for lower building heights at the same level of the mainly two and three-storey buildings in the Ta’ Mellu area. It had also called for the pedestrianisation of the area around the chapel and for a green buffer between existing developments and the development within the rationalisation site.

Carmel Cacopardo had already warned that the Tad-Dib refusal in March 2017 would not be the end of the story: the decision to expand Malta’s development zones in 2006 committed vast tracts of land for development, the effects of which are being felt today.

Back in 2009, Mosta residents created the Save Tad-Dib Action Group in protest at plans to build over 650 apartments on the untouched fields next to the Mosta cemetery. Preparations were underway to develop over 150 plots into residential areas, comprising three storeys of apartments together with semi-basements, penthouses and garages. “We can’t really protest against the development because this is one of the pockets earmarked for development by the government’s rationalisation scheme in 2006. But why fill up a place like this with five-storey blocks with no front gardens?” spokesman Albert McCarthy had said.

His group had called on the government to develop the land into Malta’s first eco-village by retaining features from typical Maltese farmhouses such as single-storey buildings with thick walls and high ceilings, as well as artisan wells to store rainwater for domestic and agricultural use.