Central Link: ODZ retail and office centre proposed in Attard

A retail and office development is being proposed outside development boundaries on agricultural land off Sqaq il-Hofra in Attard

A retail and office development is being proposed outside development boundaries on agricultural land off Sqaq il-Hofra in Attard, down along the alley from the Citroen showroom and petrol station.

The area where the development is proposed has been brought closer to the road network by the controversial Central Link project, which will be directly connected to the alley.

The various components of the project, which include a 247 sq.m office block, will be interspersed on 7,879 square metres of agricultural land which was disturbed during the construction of storm-water infrastructure.  

The application refers to the land in question as a “disturbed site” but previous applications on the same site confirm that it consisted in agricultural land.

The project, proposed by Donit Ltd, a company owned by Gino and Aaron Vella,  is set to include a garden centre and pet shop together with conference, office and educational facilities at ground and first-floor levels. An underground car-park for 51 car spaces is alsoproposed. The development will include a nursery, greenhouses and temporary stores for the retail of plants, vegetables and agricultural produce as well as aquariums and cages for the holding of fish, reptiles and other pets and the sale of garden furniture. Facilities will also include a cafeteria.

The area in question is designated in the local plan as an Area of Agricultural Value.

According to existing policies only buildings, structures and uses essential to the needs of arable agriculture can be permitted on such Areas of Agricultural Value. Such development must not adversely affect the quality of water resources, soil and landscape.

This is the second ODZ project being proposed at a short distance from the new Central Link project, which also involves the take-up of agricultural land between Triq Oliver Agius and Triq il-Hofra in the vicinity of the proposed garden centre.

A roadside cafeteria is also being proposed instead of a derelict rural building that was previously used as a lime factory along the Mriehel bypass, opposite the Fort Business Centre.

The site was one of the entrances to the storm-water tunnels forming part of the National Flood Relief Project approved in 2011. In 2018 the Planning Authority approved the construction of an underground reservoir for collection of storm water irrigation for agricultural fields in the area.

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