Malta
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Baħrija ODZ land could be developed into villas

A tract of 558 square metres in land outside of the development zone in Baħrija could end up turning into two sprawling villas with swimming pools. 

The planning application, PA/04672/23, was filed by Liam Ferriggi of Infinite Fusion Properties and architect Albert Spiteri and seeks to develop two two-storey villas with pools and basements on a turn a tract of virgin ODZ land on Triq il-Karità in the village in the limits of Rabat. 

Apart from being located in pristine and untouched land, the site is also in close proximity to a number of archaeologically sensitive sites, as indicated on the Planning Authority’s own map server, including cart ruts, the remains of a bronze age settlement and a prehistoric temple. 

The application has already attracted a number of objections, including from activist group Moviment Graffitti

The site, marked in blue, is in close proximity to a number of archaeologically sensitive sites. Photo: Planning Authority MapServerThe site, marked in blue, is in close proximity to a number of archaeologically sensitive sites. Photo: Planning Authority MapServer

The proposed development, they said, is a “non-starter” because it lies in a highly sensitive natural area close to the valley sides of il-Wied ta’ Marċa and close to the coastal cliffs of Rdum tal-Vigarju, in Rabat.

“The area is environmentally sensitive in view of its ecological and scientific value and scenic qualities due to important natural topographic features, habitats and species. In fact, the site and its surroundings are protected through various legal designations for nature conservation,” they said. 

This includes being scheduled as an area of ecological importance for the coastal cliffs and an area of high landscape value, a special protection area Natura 2000 site under the Wild Birds Directive and a special area of conservation of international importance under the Habitats Directive, the group added. 

“Given the above, the proposed development is of concern from an environmental point of view since it will result in the take-up of rural land, the introduction of new structures within an undeveloped site, formalisation of the site and a loss of rural character of the site.”

Given this, they said, the proposal is deemed contrary to a number of SPED objectives as well as the Rural Policy and Design Guidance when it comes to the swimming pools.

“The proposed development is set to ruin pristine, rural land and set a precedent for the development of the rural areas of Baħrija. Based on the overriding need to respect the overarching conservation objectives for Natura 2000 sites and in light of all policy preaches underlined above, we call on the PA to categorically refuse this application and any future proposals in the area,” they concluded. 

The Rabat local council, Zminijietna – Voice of the Left, Friends of the Earth Malta and The Ramblers’ Association of Malta have also filed objections to the proposed development. 

The application is still currently awaiting assessment and a formal recommendation from the PA, with representations remaining open until September 18.