Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) denounces application PA 2610/15 to increase the height of apartment blocks at Marsalforn to 11-12 floors in a PA-blessed attempt to transform Marsalforn into a high-rise area.
The FAR high rise policy clearly states that tall buildings go against Gozo’s character and should not even be considered. This application for amended plans would create a heavy-density development that would completely change the fabric of the small village.
This unsafe, dust-generating project has been abusive for years, narrowing Ta’ Barda Road and building whole floors on part of the site without permits. In spite of all this, the authorities have ignored resident’s pleas for enforcement against this abuse for twelve years. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the Planning Authority has ignored calls for a shadow survey to examine this tall building’s blocking of neighbours’ natural light, as well as studies of the wind effect on surrounding streets. The developers have not submitted the required photomontages to assess the impact on the landscape, nor studied the social and environmental impacts that such a development would have on its surroundings.
Furthermore the Case Officer claims “The proposed catering uses within the proposal are the same as those which were previously approved in PA 7243/05 and therefore acceptable in principle”, ignoring the fact that events on the proposed roof-top terrace restaurant will creates far more noise pollution than the previous ground-floor restaurant.
In his report, the Planning Authority Case Officer admits that “The height limitation affecting the site is four (4) floors”. However in justifying the additional 11th floor through old permits approved through the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) Policy, he is conveniently overlooking the fact that DC 2000 policy only allowed ten floors, not eleven, let alone twelve floors (due to a so-called ‘intermediate floor’ this building will effectively rise to twelve floors). The additional floors beyond the permissible ten floors are precluded by the FAR 2014 “sites which are located in Gozo …will not be eligible”.
How can the PA claim that it satisfies the SPED which stipulates that developments in Gozo should “protect the distinctiveness of Gozo’s settlements, cultural and natural environment?” Or the requirement “To ensure that all new developments provide a sense of place, respond to the local character, improve amenity and the pleasantness of place and ensure safety” when the scale of the project will have an irreversible negative impact on the quality of life and environment in Marsalforn?
Since major changes to plans such as additional floors have a major effect on surrounding residents and traffic, they were never accepted as ‘amended plans’, and always required the submission of fresh applications. If approved, this will not only open the door to other high-rise developments that will change the appearance and quality of life of Marsalforn, but will establish this as a stratagem to bypass full processing. FAA calls on the authorities to consider the application has changed so much that it is in fact a completely new application and not an amendment, and thus should be refused outright, as was done in the case of Ħondoq ir-Rummien.
The Case Officer report rife with misrepresentations in order to justify this abusive application, shows a Planning Authority that is operating without a conscience, morality or regard for the truth.