Agri-tourism proposed instead of Mellieha chicken farm

Farmers concerned project will hamper access to their fields

A controversial chicken farm in Mellieha regularised in 2016, is now earmarked for an agri-tourism project with six rooms, each with their own swimming pool.

The development is being proposed in the Tat-Tomna area, just off Louis Wettinger Street atop Mellieħa ridge.

The plans also include an open kitchen, a food serving area and other ancillary facilities including sheep pens.

The applicant Joseph Gauci has declared that part of the land earmarked for the project is government owned. He has also indicated that although he does not fully own the site, he has the consent of the other owners.   

While the new development will replace an existing eye sore, the agri tourism raises concerns of urban sprawl in this area of Mellieha.

Moreover, neighbouring farmers who contacted MaltaToday claim that access to their farms could be impacted because a public pathway is in the site earmarked for the new development.

The sanctioning of the chicken farm was originally refused by the Planning Authority in 2010 and an enforcement order issued in 2011.

But this was reversed in 2016 following a decision by an appeal’s tribunal which had revoked the original decision and sent back the application for the reconsideration of the Planning Authority under the new rural policy approved in 2014.

Although the case officer still argued that the application should be rejected because the chicken farm was located 140m from a residential area, it was still approved by the Planning Commission.

A comparison between aerial photos taken in 1998 and 2004 indicates that only a small part of the existing farm existed prior to 1998. The applicant is a registered poultry producer.

Gauci had also unsuccessfully applied to extend the chicken farm over a neighbouring plot of land, but the application was turned down by the Planning Authority in 2016, with the decision being confirmed on appeal following protests by residents.

The rural policy approved in 2014 allows the conversion or redevelopment of  permitted buildings within an established farming enterprise, provided that the total floor space dedicated for accommodation and ancillary facilities is not larger than 200sq.m.