AX Holdings showroom in Mosta approved due to site’s ‘low archeological value’

The Planning Authgority said the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage had determined that the site in an area known as il-Wesgha tal-Ġganti in Mosta had little archeogical value, depite experts warning that the area could yield further findings, possibly a hypogeum 

A photomontage showing the showroom intruding on the surrounding rural environment which contains rubble walls containing megalithic stones
A photomontage showing the showroom intruding on the surrounding rural environment which contains rubble walls containing megalithic stones

Development permission for a four-storey block consisting of a showroom, five maisonettes, seven apartments, four penthouses and 18 basement garages in an archeologically-sensitive area in Mosta was granted after it was determined that the site itself had low archaeological value, the Planning Authority announced today.

In May this year, MaltaToday revealed that the application, filed by AX Holdings, was for development in an area where the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH) had – in 2014 – identified a high field wall to the south of the property which includes large “ashlar blocks” deserving conservation. 

Experts had then warned that the area could yield further findings, possibly a hypogeum in depressions under the rocks found on the site.

But the PA today said the permission had been issued by the Planning Commission had been granted after the Planning Directorate had consulted with the SCH, amongst other relevant consultees.

The SCH recommended approval of the development on the basis that a comprehensive archaeological investigation had been carried out in 2013 during the processing of the Planning Control application (PC11/13) for the area. This application had established the planning parameters for the area in line with established legal procedures.

The development permit includes all the conditions put forward by the SCH including having the site monitored by an archaeologist who has to be approved and directed by the SCH. This condition was being observed by the applicant. The PA said it would continue to monitor that works are in accordance with the approved permit.

The PA said that the impact of the proposed planning scheme for the area on potential features of archaeological importance was a primary consideration in the assessment process of the planning control application.

The SCH carried out extensive archaeological excavations and imposed a number of measures to safeguard the features that are considered of value. The approved scheme included areas where no rock-cutting or development is allowed and where green open spaces are to be kept to protect archaeological features. 

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