The Gozo Business Chamber and the Malta Chamber of Commerce have warned about the effect of overdevelopment on Gozo and called for a rethink of the policies fuelling this process.

"Any development needs to be taken within the context where it is taking place, and this includes our rural communities and towns. To this end both Chambers call for established design guidelines which respect the context of our towns and villages," the two entities said in a statement on Saturday.

The Chambers said designs of any proposed development should be seriously considered and evaluated within the context of the streetscape to ensure that it gives a positive contribution to the local distinctiveness.

Clear design guidelines respecting the context of our towns and villages complemented by a well-thought out aesthetics policy are required. In this sense Gozo can serve as a test bed where policies can then be deployed at a national level, they said.

"Policies must be interpreted within their wider context rather than a pick-and choose approach of abstracts from one policy or another. We are seeing the demolition of terraced houses and buildings which merit conservation to be replaced with apartment blocks, whilst the character of Gozo’s urban streetscapes and other aspects such as their proximity to urban conservation areas and outside development zones are being completely ignored."

During a joint media conference in Victoria, the president of the Gozo Business Chamber Joseph Borg said the chamber was in favour of sustainable development which promotes quality construction that embellishes the environment rather than abusing it, which should be done within the context of Gozo achieving carbon neutrality prior to Malta.

In this context, both Chambers said that the property and construction industry should be incentivised to move towards more sustainable development. The protection of Gozo’s green belts, and a thoughtful and judicious use of what is permissible on outside development zones, including a genuine use of such land when needed, should seriously be considered during the evaluation process of any development.

“Gozo has a unique character. Its uniqueness contributes directly to our competitiveness and it is our duty to ensure that the industry develops in a way which takes into account the unique fabric and character of our islands, the challenges posed by climate change, and the well-being of the community 
at large” the President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, Marisa Xuereb said.

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