Planning board reconsidering Ghar Gherduf development, internal investigation launched

A deeper analysis of a permit granted to developers revealed discrepancies in information held by the Planning Authority • Internal inquiry and audit to be launched

The development at Ghar Gherduf threatens nearby Roman catacombs
The development at Ghar Gherduf threatens nearby Roman catacombs

The planning board may decide to withdraw a development permit granted for the development of a terraced house in Kercem, Gozo, after it emerged that the development threatens the existence of the only Roman catacombs to be found in Gozo.

The concern was first raised by NGO Wirt Ghawdex, which flagged the serious threat the developed posed on the catacombs. It accused the Planning Authority (PA) and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH) of “turning a blind eye” and condoning the destruction.

The PA had said that, during the processing of the application, both the SCH and the former environment protection directorate had been consulted and no objections were raised.

But today, the Planning Authority said its board will be discussing and decide whether the development permit should be withdrawn.

The development permit was issued in January, allowing the construction of a two-storey terraced house. During the application process, the planning directorate considered the site as Class B archaeological zone.

Government records, it said, however showed that the site and surrounding area had considered as Class A protected sites since the year 2000.

“The same discrepancy was noted on the authority’s electronic system which is used by the planning directorate when planning applications are being evaluated,” the PA said in a statement.

The PA stated that the discrepancy was noted after chairman Johan Buttigieg requested clarifications on the permit.

The PA confirmed that, as a result of this discrepancy, grounds existed for the withdrawal of the permit.

The authority will also launch an internal investigation to determine how, and why, the discrepancy existed in the system.

An audit will also be carried out to verify that the information published on its online system is correct.

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