Seven-storey block facing Bidni rural area approved after ODZ swimming pool dropped

Planning Authority issues outline permit for seven-storey block at interface between sprawling urban area of Marsaskala and rural hamlet of il-Bidni, after proposed development was limited to the building zone

The area of the proposed development at the rural hamlet of il-Bidni (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
The area of the proposed development at the rural hamlet of il-Bidni (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

The Planning Authority has issued an outline permit for a seven-storey block at the interface between the sprawling urban area of Marsaskala and the the rural hamlet of il-Bidni, after the proposed development was limited to the building zone.

Original plans flagged by MaltaToday in 2022 foresaw a swimming pool and decking area protruding outside the development zone (ODZ) but these were removed from the latest plans.

The only structure to protrude beyond the development zone in the plans approved by the PA is a 1.5m wide paved passage which will provide frontage to the residential units facing the ODZ.

The permit was issued with a condition stipulating that the part of the site located beyond the 1.5m passage shall be utilised “for soft landscaping only”.

(Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
(Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

The development will still result in the take-up of agricultural land but the carob trees in the area previously designated for the decking area will be spared.

The permit issued so far is an outline one, setting the scale, height and other planning parameters of the development, but a full permit is still required before works start.

But the PA has approved in the principle the development of 34 garages, 41 apartments on six full floors and four penthouses at recessed floor level.

The local plan imposes a height limitation of four floors and a semi-basement in this area of Marsaskala, which according to present planning policies is equivalent to an overall height of 22 metres in which the developer managed to fit seven floors.

The development will front another seven-storey development approved in recent years.

The only pending issue is the relocation of a vernacular room which will be dismantled to make way for the development. The developer wants the structure to be relocated in the ODZ, but the PA wants it to be relocated within the development zone.

The proposed development
The proposed development

The PA had already issued an outline permit to developer Kenneth Abela for 45 apartments on the same site in 2008.

Before approving the application, the Planning Authority had expressed concern on five-storey high blank party wall overlooking the ODZ, but the permit was issued following guidance from the PA’s executive committee. The permit was never implemented and has expired.

Subsequently, an application was presented by Sharon Camilleri, for an elderly home which included the adjacent ODZ site, but later withdrawn. The present applicant, developer Francis Gauci declared that he is not the owner of the entire site but has been granted consent by the owners.