[SLIDESHOW] High-end bungalow village will have ‘major negative impact’ on Comino

EIA shows increased density from bungalows on Comino redevelopment will change both physical and social of essentially uninhabited island

The proposed bungalow village by the Hili Group on Comino island will generate a “large” change in what is a highly sensitive landscape.

The village will overlook Santa Marija bay, creating a sense of a “greater, denser, built-up area” as a change from a tourist complex to private and individually-owned residences will change both the physical and social landscape.

The luxry homes will introduce “a group of permanent residences to an island that is essentially uninhabited and part of the Maltese islands’ rural heritage and environment.”

Details from an environmental impact assessment by ADI for developers HV Hospitality, show that the new Santa Marija Village will comprise 21 individually-serviced bungalows for 130 residents, a restaurant and a general store.

Significantly, unlike the existing ones which form part of the hotel, the serviced bungalows will be for sale, and prospective owners can opt to put their property in a rental pool, serviced by the hotel.

While the hotel is predicted to have a positive impact on the low-lying coast and built-up areas, the bungalows are predicted to have “a major negative impact”.

A new hotel replacing the present structure will be a “more subtle building” that will blend in better with the environment. But the number of bungalows will increase and appear closer together, “increasing the density of the built-up part of this area”, EIA warns.

Each individual bungalow will be planned around a central garden courtyard and will have a swimming pool.

Each private, stepped garden will be apporximately 300sq.m, the size of a large apartment on Malta.

The EIA warns of the risk of alien species being introduced to Comino via the private gardens, described as a “potentially significant risk and the impact could be of major significance on Comino”.

Should the Planning Authority approve the bungalows, the EIA suggests a condition in the  operational permit for no additional planting or landscaping be added to the bungalows by the individual owners.

The EIA also recommends that no additional lighting be added to the bungalows, and that the playing of amplified music should be restricted only for the purpose of providing good ambience, both for the hotel as well as the bungalows.

The hotel will occupy a smaller area with 7,154sq.m to be restored, and an extra 3,697sq.m of land will be taken up at Santa Marija Bay.

Two 15-17m piers are proposed in San Niklaw and Santa Marija bays, which the EIA says will not have a negative impact on the sandy beaches. At Santa Marija Bay, the proposed eastern-facing pier will extend 16.5m from the existing shoreline, down from an originally-proposed 30m, to minimize impact on protected habitats.