Superintendence alarmed by plans for holiday village near Wied iz-Zurrieq

The development consists of 14 holiday bungalows and is being proposed instead of the wedding halls but will extend over a larger area

Superintendence alarmed by plans for holiday village near Wied iz-Zurrieq
Superintendence alarmed by plans for holiday village near Wied iz-Zurrieq

A proposed holiday village in Zurrieq being planned over the site of the Garden of Eden wedding hall has raised the alarm of the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage.

The development consists of 14 holiday bungalows and is being proposed instead of the wedding halls but will extend over a larger area, mostly into a makeshift car park on what was previously agricultural land, which was served with an enforcement order 20 years ago.

In its memo sent to the Planning Authority, the Superintendence noted that a large part of the area earmarked for development is relatively pristine agricultural land. In view of this the Superintendence expressed “its concern at this proposed development”.

The Superintendence insists that any development in the area should be “guided by the principles enshrined in the European Landscape Convention” – which obliges signatories not just to protect protected heritage buildings but to respect cultural landscapes and collective memories.

Moreover the Superintendence is calling for a Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment covering a 500-metre radius around the proposed development.

“Potential impacts may occur within the footprint of the project, in the immediate environs, and along access routes in the course of works,” the Superintendence warned. This is because the proposed development may potentially impact not just cultural heritage assets, but also archaeological remains and the integrity of the cultural landscape.

The plans submitted by owner Maurizio Baldacchino propose the demolition of the existing buildings and the development of 14 new units, a reception area, a tennis court and a parking area.

Presently 1,661sq.m of the 23,342sq.m site is built up. But development is concentrated on the area around the ‘Eden Lodge’ and ‘Cottage Garden’ wedding halls.

According to the latest plans 1,524sq.m of land will be built up but the development will be scattered over a wider area including undeveloped land in the north-western part of the site and an extensive 5,073sq.m car park of dubious legality.

The residential units will consist of two-bedroom cabanas, all equipped with a pool and screened by trees and a green roof.

The Environment and Resources Authority has already objected to the development, noting that the application is proposing the additional commitment of undeveloped land at the north-western parts of the site to accommodate a more scattered development.

The ERA has expressed concern that the development is also being proposed on an extensive area currently used as a makeshift car park. “The disturbed state of the site is not considered as a valid commitment justifying further development.”

The site is already subject to an enforcement order dating back to 1998 against the levelling of the site to construct the car park. The ERA said the ‘disturbed’ area should be restored to its pristine state in line with a method statement approved by the same authority.

A group of 12 farmers who till fields in the area have also presented a petition in which they call for the reinstatement of the area occupied by the car park, to its natural state. They also denounced the illegal dumping of rubble and waste oil which has taken place over the past years. The farmers say that these illegalities have given “a semblance of ugliness” which has robbed the area of its natural beauty.

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