PA issues permit for four ODZ villas

The PA has approved four villas in Kalkara which had been recommended for resusal by both ERA and the Planning Directorate

Four dwellings approved in ODZ area
Four dwellings approved in ODZ area

An application has been approved for the construction of four dwellings and underlying garages in a hamlet in Triq Santu Rokku in Kalkara outside development zones, despite four prior refusals by the Planning Authority for development on the same 1,400m2 site.

The area is in the vicinity of the Wied Rinella valley and forms part of an Area of Ecological Importance, enjoying Level 4 protection – a level of protection accorded to buffer zones to areas enjoying a higher level of protection.  

The local plan includes a “presumption against new development” in this rural hamlet.

The application, presented by auto dealer Norbert Bellia who owns the land in question, foresees development of four new dwellings constructed over a ground floor level and one overlying storey on what is presently agricultural land which also includes a number of trees. 

The Planning Authority has already refused an application for the construction of two residences and underlying garages presented by Bellia on the same site in February 2015.

The proposal is located in the Santu Rokku hamlet, which according to the PA’s Planning Directorate is one of the “few remaining relatively unspoilt traditional agricultural communities”. When refusing the previous application the case officer insisted that only the rehabilitation and upgrading of existing buildings could be allowed in this hamlet.  

Architect Robert Musumeci, who represented Bellia in both the current and in a previous application, argued that the proposal should be considered in view of commitments on adjacent sites and in view that the development is being proposed in an “infill site” between two older dwellings, thus filling the area between two blank party walls.  

The site in question lies between two dwellings fronting Triq Santu Rokku but the proposed development also extends into agricultural land, which goes deeper into the countryside than any of the existing buildings. The same application had been refused in December 2012 but was re-assessed following the approval of the new rural design guidelines. 

But the case officer argued that the only kind of development, which can be proposed in this area, is a single farmhouse for an arable farmer. Two separate applications to construct two terraced houses presented by other applicants were also refused in 2010.

According to the Environment and Resources Authority the development will disrupt the rural setting and adversely affect the ecological importance of the relevant site and the surrounding Area of Ecological Importance/Site of Scientific Importance.

"Moreover, the proposed development would result in additional urban sprawl beyond the current extent of the built-up area and would also create a strong impact on the visual amenity of this particular hamlet, which would be highly visible from surroundings areas. In addition, the proposal would also result in the loss of undeveloped land and site formalisation and the uprooting of existing mature trees". The four dwellings will occupy a 647 m2 footprint.

 

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