There is little sign of development slowing down in Gozo, with a four-floor apartment block on potentially arable land in Xewkija being advertised as for sale – despite the project currently awaiting a recommendation from the case officer at the Planning Authority.
The application is to excavate a site at the limits of Xewkija and to construct 3 ground floor garages, 3 maisonettes, 21 apartments at first, second and third floor levels and 6 penthouses with underlying basement garages and car spaces.
The site is situated at the end of Dahla Toni Camilleri – which is accessible from on Triq il-Mithna, close to the Triq l-Imgarr main road – but which is not actually a road and cannot, at the moment, be accessed by vehicles.
That presumably will have to change and a road will have to be opened up, given that the proposed development has enough garage space for 40 cars.
The area is just outside the Urban Conservation Area, and is within the development zone, but is on a green and undeveloped area.
The applicant is Francesco Grima, while the architect for the project is Alexander Bigeni.
Standard planning procedure dictates that before a report by the PA’s case officer is drafted, consultation from a number of entities – such as the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA), the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, the locality’s local council, and Transport Malta amongst others – must be carried out.
The case officer then takes into account all of these consultations along with the policies applicable to the site where the project is proposed in order to come up with a recommendation: whether to approve the permit or whether to refuse it.
It will then be either the Planning Board or the Planning Commission that makes a final decision on the application.
The project is currently in the first phase, with the most recent plans being submitted on 16 March this year. Only the Water Services Corporation and the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) have submitted their consultations, with the CRPD objecting to the development over concerns about parking, and accessibility issues within the whole premises.
Notwithstanding all of this, however, the proposed development is already being advertised as being for sale – with some units already marked as sold.
The proposed development is being marketed on the website of a real estate firm called Elzan Properties, under the name Mulberry Court.
The advert reads: “New project on plan, located in a sought after, residential area of Xewkija, close to Victoria and all amenities. Ideally located both as a residential unit and as a rental investment. Lay-out comprises of a combined kitchen, dining, living, two or three bedrooms, two bathrooms, with front terrace and back balconies. Offered in shell form. Garages available. Optional finishing packages on request. Freehold.”
Different units within the development are being advertised for sale, with prices ranging from €77,000 to €129,000 per unit.
Nine of the properties are marked as sold already, for a total value of €981,000.
Visuals posted as part of the advert also give the impression that the development is neighbouring a house which is already built at the end of the passageway – when in truth this is not the case, with there being a field between that house and the proposed development.
This is confirmed by both the boundaries for the development on the Planning Authority’s Geoserver, and by streetscape elevations submitted as part of the application.
It is the latest of many applications for apartment developments on Malta’s sister island, which has prompted fears from masses of the public that the fate of Gozo’s environment is filled with more shades of grey concrete than of green fields.
Recently, The Malta Independent reported how three separate applications plan a total of 125 apartments on agricultural land in Sannat. The three applications were purportedly filed on behalf of Gozitan property magnate Joseph Portelli, and are filed separately in order to avoid the increased scrutiny that a major project would receive.
One of those three applications has already been approved by the Planning Authority, while the other two are still awaiting recommendations.
Other major developments include four similarly separate applications for a total of 160 apartments in Qala – filed in very much the same circumstances as the aforementioned Sannat development.
Activists and the Qala local council are protesting that development in court.