MEPA approves development 10 metres from World Heritage Site

Heritage Superintendence issues clearance for development after initial objection

A montage of the proposed development
A montage of the proposed development

The controversial approval by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority of a 96-square-metre dwelling 10 metres away from the Ta' Hagrat temples had the blessing of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.

But the same body had initially objected to the development in March.

In March, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage not only objected to the construction of a new dwelling due to its proximity to the World Heritage Site Ta' Hagrat, but went as far as calling on MEPA to revise development boundaries to safeguard the site.

In a strongly worded objection issued on 8 March, the Superintendence objected to the "intensive development a few metres away from the Ta' Hagrat World Heritage Site and well within the buffer zone of the monument". 

UNESCO had communicated the outline of the buffer zone to the Superintendence in 2011.

"This urbanisation should not be allowed to spread, and if necessary, a review of existing development boundaries in the area should be carried out in view of the UNESCO buffer zone," the Superintendence argued.

But after a meeting with Heritage Malta and MEPA held in May, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage issued its clearance for the development, after plans were changed to address some of its concerns.

In its letter, the Superintendence still noted that the development will take place in an archeologically sensitive area "located 10 metres away from the Ta' Hagrat temples".

But the Superintendence justified its clearance for the development, citing new plans presented by the developer limiting construction to the development zone, and the removal of the originally proposed swimming pool and driveway. It also noted that no rock cutting was to take place on the sensitive site.

The case officer report still called on the Environment Planning Commission to refuse this development, since part encroached on an Outside Development Zone.

But after the removal of the vehicular access from the ODZ, the Environment Planning Commission, chaired by architect Franco Montezin, anonymously approved the project.

An earlier application to demolish the existing garage and erect semi-basement garages, apartments and a penthouse was refused on 25 July 2008.

The Mgarr council, which will be appealing MEPA's decision, had objected to the development due to the proximity to the temples. Environmental NGO Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar will be assisting the council in its appeal.

we are losing our heart to economy Observer
Is this what Joseph promised ? It is becoming all too obvious now, that land developers have possibly given a very healthy helping hand in winning the election ! They never had it so goood!
THIS is the obscenity, aka MEPA, who have the responsibility for making a complete mess of Malta.
Reminds me of a 'country' residence smack in the middle of the Bahrija valley. Do you remember that one James?