PA approves two dwellings and pool in Wied Ghomor valley

The Planning Authority approved two brand new dwellings in the Wied Ghomor valley in St Julian’s instead of two dilapidated dwellings, while a cafeteria and a brand new dwelling were approved in Qormi

The Environment and Resources Authority objected to the developments which will include two pools
The Environment and Resources Authority objected to the developments which will include two pools

On Tuesday the  Environment Planning Commission (EPC) has issued two controversial ODZ permits in valleys in St Julian’s and Qormi. 

Two brand new dwellings have been approved in the Wied Ghomor valley in St Julian’s instead of two dilapidated dwellings, while a cafeteria and a brand new dwelling were approved in Qormi.  

The dwellings were approved after sufficient proof of previous residence was presented in the form of electoral registers dated 1981, 1982 and 1985, a contract dated 1974 and a recent promise of sale.

The new permit was made possible by the rural policy approved in 2014, which allows the PA to approve new dwellings instead of the ruins of old buildings for which a proof of previous residence has been presented.

The two dwellings will occupy a footprint of 210 square metres. Both dwellings will have a swimming pool, a deck and a paved area. 

On 28 March, the Environment and Planning Commission had deemed the proposed development of the two dwellings within the valley as incompatible with the rural policy but yesterday the same board accepted the new development after one of the swimming pools was moved closer to the dwelling.  The height of the new building was also reduced to minimise the visual impact. 

The building lies at the beginning of the valley system of Ta’ Wied il-Kbir, Ta’ Wied Ghomor and Misrah Lewza and forms part of a Level 4 Buffer Zone to protect the scheduled Area of Ecological Importance of Wied Ghomor. 

The proposal includes paved areas, a swimming pool, decking and a concrete pathway.

The Environment and Resources Authority objected to the proposal, insisting that it would contribute to unnecessary land take-up in the ODZ. 

“Such developments may result in future pressures for similar developments within this particular area and are not acceptable within the site context”. 

Moreover the ERA claimed that the development undermines the rural characteristics of the area through the introduction of urban type development without due consideration to the site’s surroundings. 

“Approval of the application may also create an undesirable precedent for similar future proposals within the area and other ODZ land which cumulatively would result in further uptake of undeveloped land for unjustified uses and consequential impacts on landscape and the visual amenity of rural areas”.

PA approves ODZ cafeteria in Qormi

A cafeteria and a brand new dwelling were approved in Wied il-Kbir, Qormi
A cafeteria and a brand new dwelling were approved in Wied il-Kbir, Qormi

The Planning Authority has ignored the recommendation of its own case officer and the advice of the Environment and Resources Authority to issue a permit for a new dwelling and a 131 sq.m cafeteria outside development zones in Wied il-Kbir in Qormi. The Agricultural Advisory Committee objected to the proposal because no evidence was submitted that a farming enterprise exists on this site and that the visitor’s attraction is not directly related to agriculture or rural conservation/appreciation/local crafts. In addition the proposed cafeteria is not “essential”. 

The permit issued to Ian A. Fitzpatrick envisions the change of use of a presently uninhabited farmhouse and watermill into a visitors’ attraction centre and cafeteria. Apart from this the permit envisions the construction of a “new residential unit” in place of other existing structures that are later additions and are proposed for demolition.

The ERA expressed its concern about the development of a cafeteria and a new dwelling in the ODZ. 

“The intensification of the building, in particular through committing part of the area with commercial development together with the introduction of another floor is not favourably considered”. 

The mill room is being retained, in order to convert it into a visitor attraction, which will be accompanied by an ancillary Class 4C cafeteria. The latter will comprise an area of 131 sq.m.

The residential unit will be built on two storeys having a gross floor area of 260sq.m. A gate is being proposed between the visitor attraction and the residential unit. This will propose access to the site in question,

In March in view of the refusal recommended by the Planning Directorate the Environment and Planning commission had called on the architect to submit fresh drawings to remove the cafeteria and include the dwelling in the floor space of the existing structure.

But subsequently no new drawings were submitted showing the removal of the cafeteria and to include the dwelling in the floor space of the existing structure. 

When approving the permit the PA imposed a new condition obliging the developer to sign a legal deed with the Planning Authority to tie the use of the two structures as “a casa bottega, which cannot be sold or transferred separately”.

The EPC concluded that the proposal is compliant with the rural policy approved in 2014.

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