Parking area threatens world heritage status of Ta’ Hagrat

The works in question, which were carried out just 60m off Ta' Hagrat, were condemned by Malta's cultural heritage watchdog

The works were carried out within the area of archaeological importance, around 60m just off Ta’ Hagrat
The works were carried out within the area of archaeological importance, around 60m just off Ta’ Hagrat

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage has condemned “unsightly” and illegal works carried out in the past years near the Ta’ Ħaġrat temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The works were carried out within the area of archaeological importance, around 60m just off Ta’ Ħaġrat.

The site owners recently requested that an illegal parking area which serves a nearby car repair shop, be regularised. Plans envisage parking spaces for seven cars, outside development zones.

An enforcement order against an illegal scrapyard in this area was also issued in 1996 but no action was taken to remove the illegality. The developers have only recently removed illegalities in the area in a bid to regularise the ODZ parking area.

In 2016 the owners applied for the construction of a garage for parking and the storage of autoparts, but this was squarely refused by the Planning Authority.

The Superintendence noted that previous works on the site were unauthorised and unmonitored, and may have resulted in accidental discoveries. “Any unreported accidental discoveries made during unmonitored works are to the detriment of the archaeological record and limit our understanding of features forming part of the cultural landscape.”

The Superintendence has warned that approval of the latest application to sanction the parking area “may jeopardise the World Heritage Status of the UNESCO inscription”.

Together with Ġgantija, Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra and Tarxien Temples Complex (all megalithic temple sites), Ta’ Ħaġrat Temples have been included under the inscription ‘The Megalithic Temples of Malta’ as a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As a state party to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, Malta is obliged to safeguard the site and its surroundings on behalf of the international community.

Din l-Art Helwa, the Archeological Society and Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar are also objecting to the regularisation of the car park. The placement of the site at only 60m away from the UNESCO Ta’ Ħaġrat temples is “further testament to the complete disregard that the applicant has shown towards… the protection of our national heritage and is indeed further reason to ensure that this abusive form of development is not encouraged and enabled by the Planning Authority,” FAA spokesperson Tara Cassar said in her objection to the proposed regularisation.

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