Press Release: Tuesday 3rd May, 2016
Wied Ghomor ODZ development should be refused – Front Harsien ODZ
Front Harsien ODZ is calling on the Planning Authority’s board to reject an application to construct a 133-room old people’s home in the Wied Ghomor valley that cuts through San Gwann, Swieqi and St Julian’s. A decision on the project is due on Thursday at 2pm.
“Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced on May Day that no more ODZ development will be carried out, and we therefore expect that Wied Ghomor is the first example in this regard. Should this development be approved it can set a horrible precedent for other development in this valley”.
“Disused quarries should not be used as a pretext for the construction of old people’s homes but should be rehabilitated, landscaped and re-used for agricultural or public recreational purposes. Moreover valleys are not appropriate locations for urban development.”, Front Harsien ODZ has insisted.
The Front also noted that the local plan stipulates that any new building is to “occupy a minimal part of the site”, and that MEPA had argued in 2011 that only 5% of the site should be developed. The proposed home will occupy 8% of the quarry and rise two storeys above it. The project will include an extensive restaurant and gym area.
“While it is positive that the project envisions the rehabilitation of a large part of the quarry, this does not justify the urban development proposed right in the middle of a valley.”
The Front also noted that according to the Planning Authority’s Social Facilities and Community Care Topic Paper, old people’s homes should be located close to or within a town or village centres to ensure the full integration of the elderly in local communities,” the Front said.
“We recognize that such quarries are in private ownership and are presently eyesores, but this should not be an excuse for new buildings in rural areas and valleys,” the Front said. “This is because such development will expose areas outside development zones to more traffic.” Moreover the approval of an old people’s home in this quarry may also serve as a pretext for similar developments in other quarries.”
The Front is also urging the government to consider ways to compensate owners of past legal developments which constitute eye sores in a bid to rehabilitate these areas and bring them back in to public ownership.
In the meantime, residents of the area are collecting signatures against the development, which will be presented to the Prime Minister.