The Żebbuġ council has joined non-governmental organisations in formally objecting to plans to build a new Lidl supermarket on ODZ land in the locality. 

The 14,000-square-metre site lies between Mdina Road and Attard Road, outside development zone. Around a third of the 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.

The proposal would involve the demolition of the existing SMW Cortis building and stores to make way for the supermarket as well as surface parking, underground parking as well as a basement-level commercial and industrial complex.

In a representation to the Planning Authority, the Żebbuġ council said it was objecting to the proposal not least because of the traffic congestion that will be created. 

It said the lack of a traffic impact assessment hindered its ability to further study the impact that the proposed project could have on the adjacent road junction which already saw heavy traffic flows, especially during rush hour. 

Moreover, it pointed to the possible social impact the project could have on established local shops and vegetable sellers who earned their living within the locality. 

The council also noted that the supermarket chain already had another three mega stores within a four-mile radius, with the supermarkets in Luqa, Qormi and Santa Venera. 

The council discussed the matter at a meeting last week and called upon the Planning Authority to draw up a number of conditions if the project were to be permitted. 

This is the epitome of urbanisation and encroachment

These included a €50,000 planning gain contribution over a five-year period to be used exclusively by the council to plant trees in the locality as well as the promotion of the use of motorcycles and bicycles through the provision of motorcycle bays and bicycle racks. 

It also requested that the supermarket’s parking facilities be made available for the public during mass events such as village feasts, Good Friday and any other large-scale event organised by the council. 

The project was also shot down by NGOs Flimkien and Ambjent Aħjar and Din l-Art Ħelwa, which insisted it breached the PA’s own policies since the area was never earmarked for a supermarket. 

“This is the epitome of urbanisation and encroachment and contrary to what its policy aims to attain,” Din l-Art Ħelwa said in its representation. 

FAA insisted that the application undermined both natural and cultural heritage, given the proximity to the Ta’ Srina Windmill which will be hidden by this proposed development. 

“There is no justification for such a project which fails on both planning and social grounds: There are two other supermarkets in the immediate area, one just across the road and the other a short distance away. A Lidl supermarket will generate an enormous amount of traffic in a highly-congested junction,” it said.

In its comments to the Planning Authority, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage said it was not objecting to the development as long as the adjacent scheduled Grade 1 windmill is conserved.  

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