'Order suspension of Wied il-Għomor development,' Ibraġġ residents tell PM, authorities

The residents said that the 10-storey development on a protected valley edge would uglify the visual impact on the surrounding area

The proposal will now include 71 residential units. consisting of 61 three-bedroom units, seven two-bedroom units and three one-bedroom units
The proposal will now include 71 residential units. consisting of 61 three-bedroom units, seven two-bedroom units and three one-bedroom units

Tal-Ibraġġ residents appealed to the Prime Minister and the authorities to instruct the suspension of works on the construction of a 10-storey block of apartments overlooking Wied il-Għomor.

In a statement, the residents said that together with the Swieqi local council they have been fighting a long and arduous battle against the construction of the apartment block that will replace the Halland Hotel, owned by Tumas Group.

A permit was granted in February 2019 and ever since, the residents and local community have been appealing this development, with no end in sight.

They said that the objection to the original permit was based on a blatant misinterpretation of the Local Plan and policies which govern this site.

“Whilst this particular area is characterised by five floor apartment blocks, it was inconceivable that a 10-storey block would be approved on a footprint which will now be taking up close to 90% of the site area where footprints are to be kept to a maximum of 40% of the site area,” the residents said.

They said that the Halland Hotel had previously occupied just 30% of the site and was receded from the ridge edge by a distance of at least nine metres.

The new development will eventually take up nearly 90% of the entire site leaving just two metres from the ridge edge and the protected valley of Wied il-Għomor, the residents said.

“The result will be a massive bulky building sitting on a protected valley edge which will only uglify the visual impact to the surrounding area and as far as across the valley scape […] It is utterly incomprehensible that such an application with so many errors, omissions and illegalities should have been given a permit in the first place.”

They expressed their disappointment at the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal’s decision to turn down their request for the suspension of works last January.

“This certainly an outrageous disregard of the public's rights coupled with the destruction of what little natural environment we have left,” the residents said.

They stressed their concerns that all their efforts and expenses incurred in this appeal were being prejudiced by the nature of the appeals process.

“The current process greatly favours the developer to the detriment of objectors and often the environment.”

The works are progressing despite the appeals
The works are progressing despite the appeals

While the appeals process is still ongoing, the construction is progressing at a fast pace, the resident said, adding that they are worried that by the time the appeal process is complete and a judgment is ruled, the development would have reached an advanced and potentially irreversible stage of construction.

“This is definitely a shameful state of affairs. It is critical that better judgment and mindful consciousness from the competent authorities prevails, forcing the developers to go back to the drawing board and thereafter have plans submitted that finally fall in line with the Local Plan and policy laws.”

They stated that even if the appeal was successful and the permit revoked, any decision undertaken by the appeals process might still be pointless, given that in practice that it was rare for buildings to be demolished after an appeal was won. 

“We, therefore, appeal to the Prime Minister and to the regulatory bodies to instruct a suspension of construction works until the appeal is heard in a just and fair manner especially given that the current construction will soon reach street level,” the residents appealed.