Wied Ghomor saved as planning tribunal rejects old people’s home

A proposed residence facility for the elderly in a disused quarry at Wied Ghomor has been rejected by the Planning Authority’s review tribunal

Wied Ghomor is the last open space between Swieqi and San Gwann
Wied Ghomor is the last open space between Swieqi and San Gwann

The valley between Swieqi and San Gwann has been spared the construction of a 133-room home for the elderly.

The development that was to take place in a disused quarry at Wied Ghomor was rejected by the review tribunal on Thursday.

The private project was opposed by the San Gwann and Swieqi local councils and environmental NGOs.

Originally recommended for approval by the planning directorate, the development was unanimously turned down by the Planning Authority board in May 2016.

Plans submitted to the authority earmarked 8% of the quarry for the old people’s home, which would have risen two storeys above the quarry.

The developer had proposed rehabilitating the rest of the site as a public garden and belvedere.

The local plan stipulates that any new building is to “occupy a minimal part of the site”. In 2011, the PA board had concluded that any development on the site should not occupy more than 5% of the quarry.

The developers had argued that the extent of the developable floor space is “extremely important for the viability of the rehabilitation of the valley.”

The development included ancillary facilities such as a gym, restaurant, a hall and a parking area.

Originally the development also included covering a large part of the site with solar panels. But this aspect of the project was dropped due to the impact on the site topography.

Swieqi mayor Noel Muscat had warned the project would continue to eat up “the last patches of open space in the town and its surroundings”, and destroy a peaceful residential community with new access roads.

Wied Għomor is a scheduled area of ecological and scientific importance and has attracted a number of development applications in the past years.

Environment Minister José Herrera had personally proposed the threatened valley for protection under the Public Domain Act, which would have offered a further safeguard against commercialisation and overdevelopment.

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