A proposed apartment block close to the protected Ġgantija Temples, in Xagħra, and just metres from another protected site, Ta’ Kola Windmill, is slated for approval after the developer reduced the overall height by a storey.

The case officer has recommended granting the permit to Mark Xerri after favourably noting the considerable reduction in height and massing of the proposed project.

Through PA 5562/21, Xerri had originally proposed demolishing the existing structures in a large unbuilt site and replace them with a maisonette with swimming pool, two, two-car garages at ground floor level and six apartments at first, second and third-floor levels in Triq il-Mitħna.

The proposal was downsized from the original application.The proposal was downsized from the original application.

Environment NGOs and objectors, which include Wirt Għawdex, Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar and Din l-Art Ħelwa, among others, strongly opposed the development, saying it would ruin the streetscape and would put the protected windmill at risk.

During the last PA hearing in May, board members had agreed to put off the decision on the application to allow time for the architect to submit revised plans and reduce the overall building height, redesign the façade to be more compatible with the existing streetscape and address the issue of the party walls being created.

Since then, the PA received fresh drawings in which the developer lowered the internal height of all proposed floor levels, reducing the proposed street façade height and overall height of the proposed development. The fresh plans also included a smaller setback on part of the third floor level to reduce the extent of the party walls. The dwellings proposed at third floor level still conform with the minimum floorspace required.

The ground floor and first floor levels are now being designed to read as one floor so that the overall façade design, in turn, reads as two floors rather than three floors. Also, more traditional elements are now being used to emulate the characteristics of the existing streetscape.

The case officer said in her latest update that the revised proposal was considered to address the Planning Board’s requirements.

She also noted that the proposed development “will not have any significant impact on the scheduled windmill”.

Prior to this downsizing, the developer had altered plans to remove a basement level that would have involved excavation. This had led the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage to withdraw its objections.

The PA has not yet given a recommendation on a pending application on an adjacent site where Leanne Portelli and Jodie Lee Borg are proposing a five-storey apartment block over a garage complex, two maisonettes, 10 apartments on the next four floors, as well as a garden and two pools in the backyard and another two swimming pools on the top floor.

This application attracted a barrage of objections, including from the CEO of Heritage Malta, who insisted that the proposed development will be visible from the Ġgantija Archaeological Park that is recognised by UNESCO as an area that has to be safeguarded to protect the values of the sites. He said Malta had “a national obligation” to ensure that such areas are managed according to the World Heritage Operational Guidelines.

“We believe that the context of scheduled sites and buildings are integral to, and essential in protecting the values of, the monuments themselves,” Noel Zammit wrote in his objection.

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