Żurrieq residents rage against 11,590 sq.m development on farmland

Residents remind government that they had been promised more open spaces after case officer recommended approval of a zoning application earmarking 11,590 sq.m of farmland for residential development

The plot of farmland was added to the development zone in 2006
The plot of farmland was added to the development zone in 2006

An 11,590 sqm plot of farmland in the Nigret area in Żurrieq is slated for the development of apartments after a case officer issued a report recommending its approval, with a final decision by the Planning Authority set to be taken next Tuesday.

The land in question was added to the development zone in the extension of building boundaries carried out in 2006. The PA has already approved a similar application on an adjacent 3,400sqm agricultural plot which includes various vernacular structures last year.

The case officer is now recommending approval of the larger plot, since the site is already earmarked for development in the local plans.

The application has been presented by Grand Property Holdings Ltd, a company whose directors are James Barbara and Jason Mifsud, whose architect is former Planning Minister George Pullicino.

More than 1,500 objections were presented against approval.

Despite the recommended approval, residents objecting to the development are unfazed. A  group of residents from Żurrieq have written to their constituent MPs asking them to take immediate action against the  proposed rezoning of the formerly ODZ site in Nigret.

In their letter, the residents highlighted the massive impact on their quality of life, stating that the development of this zone goes against the promise to provide more open spaces in urban zones.

The residents are asking their elected representatives to immediately oppose the project in public and guarantee the existing public spaces and integrity of ODZ land.

The letter was sent out to Miriam Dalli (Minister for the Environment), Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi (Minister for Planning), Owen Bonnici (Minister for Culture and Heritage) as well as MPs Omar Farrugia, Tony Bezzina and Stanley Zammit.

“We believe in keeping an open dialogue, however the anger of the residents is evident. The efforts to preserve our town and the wellbeing of its people will continue undeterred, despite the powerful interests we’re up against,” the residents said in their letter.

A court sentence issued in 2021, which confirmed the legality of the extension of boundaries, also stated that the approval of requests for development on rationalisation sites is not automatic, especially when development impacts on agricultural land and archaeological sites.

Judge Joanne Vella Cuschieri highlighted that each area released for development was subject to a zoning application that was open to objections. The judge observed that requests for development had in fact been refused in areas of Mosta and Ta’ Brag at Mellieħa where objections had been raised.