Updated | Ghar Gherduf spared development after discrepancies revealed in authority's records

The Planning Board has revoked the permit issued for a two-storey house close to Gozo's only Roman catacoms in Kercem, after it transpired that the area had been erroneously classified in the application process

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

The Planning Board today voted unanimously to revoke the permit issued for the development of a two-storey house in the vicinity of Gozo's only Roman catacombs.

The Għar Għerduf site, in Kerċem, came under threat after a permit was granted in January for the development in Triq Ta’Xuxa, but it was later revealed that the decision had been based on wrong data saved on the Planning Authority's online server and government records.

The archaeological classification of the site had been wrongly stated when the application was being processed, and the Planning Directorate had assessed the site as a Class B area when it had been classified as a Class A area since 2000.

In today’s hearing, the applicant’s representatives insisted that the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage had not raised any objections to the proposal.

The PA's executive chairman, Johann Buttigieg, said the project architect should have raused the issue of the wrong classification before a decision had been taken.

During the application process, the planning directorate had considered the site as a Class B archaeological zone. The PA had said that, during the processing of the application, both the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage and the former environment protection directorate had been consulted and no objections were raised. 

But government records revealed that the site and surrounding area had been 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 has announced it would be carrying out an internal audit to confirm that all the information on its online system is correct.

Borg welcomed the PA’s decision although he said he was not personally aware of any other similar situations.

He said it would be up to the PA to decide whether the final report on the audit will be made public.

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

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