The Żebbuġ local council has raised concerns over plans for a new Lidl supermarket on land that is outside development zones between Mdina Road and Attard Road.

The proposal, currently being assessed by the Planning Authority, would involve the demolition of the existing SMW Cortis building to make way for the supermarket as well as surface parking and a basement-level commercial and industrial complex.

Around a third of the 14,000 square metre site is designated as an area of containment, where industrial development is allowed, but the project would spill over onto a significant portion of surrounding ODZ land to accommodate parking and road access.

In a representation to the PA, the Żebbuġ council said residents had raised significant objections to the project, including over parking and traffic problems, and the social impact on the residential area, as well as the take-up of ODZ land.

The council called for social and traffic impact studies, including assessment of alternative means of transport, health impacts due to pollution, as well as economic impacts of traffic congestion.

READ: A 'land bank' for abandoned ODZ sites? 

On environmental concerns, the council added: “Any development extensions onto ODZ spaces should be justified especially in areas of recreational potential, ecological value and uniqueness. The local council can never approve any type of development on ODZ land.”

Similar concerns have been raised by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), which called for the project to be confined entirely to the area of containment and for the rest of the ODZ site – most of which is disturbed land – to be rehabilitated.

The authority said that, as proposed, the project would increase urban sprawl and “result in further commitment of undeveloped rural land and take-up of a substantial part of the remaining undeveloped fields”.

It also noted that a scheduled windmill was located on the southern periphery of the site, surrounded on three sides by the applicant’s property.

Residents who have submitted their own objections said Lidl already operated three large outlets in Luqa, Qormi and Santa Venera and called on the PA to honour its policies and maintain Żebbuġ as a residential area.

Others highlighted the negative visual impact on the entry to the village and the impact on established local shops.

Public consultation on the project closes on Friday, with a decision targeted for October.

Residents are worried about the impact the store will have on local neighbourhoods. Photo: ShutterstockResidents are worried about the impact the store will have on local neighbourhoods. Photo: Shutterstock

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