Gozo’s descent into a hellish construction nightmare demands urgent action to ”stop the rot”, a heritage NGO has said in a call for authorities to adopt three simple measures to protect Malta’s sister island.  

Din l-Art Ħelwa Għawdex said that “disastrous developments” were being approved for sensitive Gozitan sites, “leaving behind them a trail of destruction”.

Planning Minister Aaron Farrugia has acknowledged the need to revise some key planning policies, with work currently underway to update the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development and to introduce an aesthetics planning policy.  

But those revisions come with no deadlines, and meanwhile, the Planning Authority continues to approve applications for controversial developments in Gozo, based on existing policies - despite Gozitan residents, NGOs, local councils and lobby groups all warning that Gozo is being irrevocably ruined by over-development.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce and the Gozo Business Chamber are two of the most recent groups to warn that many new developments in Gozo are completely ignoring the context in which they lie.

Din l-Art Ħelwa Għawdex believes introducing three measures would give Gozo some breathing space while planning policy reviews were completed.

The three measures, which DLĦGħ had first proposed when it was established in June, are:

  1. A twelve-month suspension of DC15 Annex 2 to all new developments in Gozo. Annex 2 allows five-storey buildings within three-storey residential areas. This, the NGO said, creates overly dense residential areas, undermines residents’ quality of life and destroys the character of Gozo’s villages.
  2. A twelve-month moratorium period on all Outside Development Zone (ODZ) applications.This would stop the “systemic misuse” of ODZ land until new guidelines that would allow for consistent planning decision-making are in place, DLĦGħ said.
  3. A twelve-month extension of the Urban Conservation Area (UCA) boundaries by 250 metres.Extending UCA boundaries would create a buffer zone for village cores, with the 12-month period being used by planners to review neighbourhood plans and impose strict planning guidelines.

“Without the above immediate action Gozo, together with its economic prospects and tourism product, are doomed to fail, whereas immediate positive action will protect and preserve the island for this and future generations,” DLĦGħ said.

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