Decision on ODZ old people’s home in Naxxar postponed

Partit Demokratiku has urged the authority against approving the permit, insisting that the Labour government must protect ODZ land

Photomontage showing view of old people’s home
Photomontage showing view of old people’s home

A decision by the Planning Authority to approve the development of a large elderly residence on an outside development zone in the limits of Naxxar has been postponed, with the board expected to meet at a later date.

The decision was expected yesterday and, even though it was postponed, the PD issued a statement condemning the decision "to greenlight" the project.

The proposed elderly home – which has been objected to by the Environment and Resources Authority – is set to accommodate 234 beds and is earmarked on a 4,625 square metre site between Sqaq l-Imnieqa and Triq il-Gharghur in Naxxar, the latter a very busy road.
The proposal involves the demolition of a derelict structure and its conversion into an old people’s home built over three floors.

The applicant, GAP Holdings, justified the location due to its proximity to existing medical facilities and good road links. 

In a statement issued this morning, Partit Demokratiku insisted that development on ODZ land should be avoided, except when absolutely necessary, pointing to guidelines in the Spatial Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED). The plan calls for a sequential approach, whereby developers are to first consider the reuse of existing developed land, then secondly, redevelopment of existing developed land and buildings, and finally, where no other feasible alternatives exist, the use of vacant land.

“SPED states clearly that all possibilities which would prevent the uptake of ODZ land have to be exhausted prior to the consideration of such an application. This objective has not been adhered to,” the PD said.

“The use of vacant land outside development zones should be considered only when no other feasible alternatives exist, so as to ensure the sustainable use of land resource, depending on the efficient use of available urban land.”

PD also noted that the area already carried three old people’s home in the vicinity, indicating that no proper Social Impact Assessments studies were carried out.

PD claimed that the development of an old people’s home on ODZ was an exercise whereby land which is bought at a cheap rate is commercially upgraded.

“Such a precedent would simply mean that in the future, developers may buy ODZ land and old people’s home are developed on ODZ land on the premise that the development is being carried out for ‘healthcare necessities’,” PD said.

For this reason, PD argued, the use of a green belt – land use designation used  retain areas of largely undeveloped or agricultural land surrounding or neighbouring urban areas – is endangered by “the mushrooming of new buildings.”

“PD is totally against the uptake of our limited ODZ land, more so in this area for projects, which do not exhaust all possibilities,” PD said, calling on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to keep his promise to protect land in outside development zones.

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