Heritage watchdog asks PA to freeze controversial permit near Ggantija temples

Heritage watchdog says heritage impact assessment has to be concluded, asks PA to freeze or revoke apartment block permit near Ggantija temples

The Ggantija temples in Gozo
The Ggantija temples in Gozo

The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage has asked the Planning Authority to freeze permit issued for an apartment block overlooking the Ġgantija temples in Gozo.

The heritage watchdog has invoked an article of the Development Planning Act requesting the freezing or withdrawal of the permit until a heritage impact assessment it had asked for is concluded.

The permit approved earlier this month is for the construction of 22 flats and 20 underlying garages. The apartment block is around 200m away from the world heritage site.

The Superintendence said it would then evaluate the study’s conclusions, which should guide the applicant, the architect and the authorities on the impact or otherwise of the proposed development on the temples.

The permit led to public outcry because of the development site’s proximity to the Ggantija temples that date back around 5,600 years. The temples are the world’s oldest free-standing structures.

The developer had argued the site was outside the temples’ buffer zone but this proved to be incorrect.

UNESCO, which is responsible for bestowing the world heritage title to historic sites, insists that a heritage impact assessment is required for any developments within their buffer zone.

READ ALSO: NGO coalition to file legal challenge against development permit near Ġgantija temples