The Lands Authority has no intention of seeking any zoning changes in a stretch of untouched land in Manikata and will be refusing its consent for public land to be included in a rezoning application. 

A spokesperson for the Lands Ministry, which is politically responsible for the authority, confirmed this to Times of Malta following an application to change the building and height limitations along the stretch of land directly opposite the Grade 1 scheduled Manikata church. 

Currently, the area allows the construction of villas, however, the applicant would like to change this into a residential priority area, possibly paving the way for more extensive development.

According to a block plan outlining the ownership of the 2,677 square metres stretch of land, the majority is government-owned and attributed to the Lands Authority. 

“The Lands Authority does not have the intention of seeking any changes to the zoning of this land and shall therefore be refusing its consent for the inclusion of public property in this planning control application,” the spokesperson said. 

Richard England: 'Manikata has suffered'

Famed architect Richard England, who designed the Manikata church in 1962, has also expressed concern that the rezoning application could pave the way for more intense development in the hamlet. 

“Manikata has suffered badly these past few years, just look at what they allowed to be built next to the old chapel,” he told Times of Malta. Last year, images of a new apartment block towering over the then newly restored old Manikata chapel sparked outrage.

“My concern is that if this is approved then it creates a precedent and then what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” England continued. 

“Since the majority of the land being proposed is owned by the government, I would find it very difficult to accept the government changing the regulations.” 

“The problem is, just like everywhere else, money talks and you never know what could happen.” 

“What worries me most is that my generation and, perhaps, the one just after it remember just how beautiful Malta and Gozo used to be. But future generations will not even have their memories, which is sad”

England says that when he built the church, it was designed to crown the hill and was almost completely concealed. However, Manikata is no longer the charming hamlet that it once was, he said, and overdevelopment has increasingly crowded it in. 

“We know the price of everything and the value of nothing,” he said. 

“What worries me most is that my generation and, perhaps, the one just after it remember just how beautiful Malta and Gozo used to be. But future generations will not even have their memories, which is sad.” 

“Shortly after my graduation,  I wrote an article and I said that Malta is small enough to have a master plan but that it would never happen,” he continued. 

“It’s not convenient for politicians and, so, instead we draft policies and policies are bendable and can accommodate whoever needs to be accommodated.”

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