Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg may finally get the swimming pool he’s always dreamt of – and he could even be granted his long-held wish before the summer.

The Planning Directorate has recommended for approval his application to build a pool area in a field adjacent to his house near Rabat. The Planning Authority is set to discuss the request for permit on June 12.

Borg’s house lies in a sensitive rural area in the hamlet of Santa Katerina.

In its report on his application, the directorate concluded that the project is acceptable because, unlike Borg’s previous attempts at obtaining a permit, it is sited on disturbed land. The pool would fit into an agricultural reservoir without taking up any further land.

The proposal also includes the re-instatement of soil levels in the field and planting 10 different species of trees and plants around the pool.

Borg’s fresh proposal did away with a previously planned outdoor dining area, as well as facilities such as a shower and a water closet.

The 40-square metre, diamond-shaped pool is just over eight metres long and nearly five metres wide. The rest of the 58-square metre reservoir will be infilled and will include a pump room and a smaller reservoir.

Plans first drew attention a few months after Borg became parliamentary secretary in 2013

The fresh plans for the pool were met with objections from citizen Noel Ciantar as well as NGOs Din l-Art Ħelwa and Futur Ambjent Wieħed.

They contended that the transformation of a reservoir into a swimming pool would set a precedent, creating further formalisation and urbanisation of ODZ and rural settings.

The directorate’s case officer, however, said that “in view of the considerable reduction in development from what was originally approved, and considering that it is now also in line with the provisions of the local plan policy, the proposal is being favourably considered”.

Borg had already been granted a permit in 2018 to turn the field, acquired a few years ago for €11,000, into a swimming and landscaped recreation area. He had based his application on a planning policy that such ODZ developments qualify for a swimming pool and outside area permit.

The Planning Commission had approved the project but an appeals court had overturned that decision, saying the proposal should be reconsidered by an appeals tribunal with a different composition.

Borg’s plans first drew attention a few months after he became parliamentary secretary for lands following the 2013 general election, when the  Planning Authority approved an outside development zone application to turn a dilapidated rural dwelling into his 400-square metre matrimonial home.

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