A second application on the Xlendi sea-front linked to Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli has been filed for a 14-floor hotel that will tower over the popular bay.
The space is currently occupied by the Xlendi Hotel, a four-storey building that is slated for demolition after the Planning Authority approved an application for the first phase of the project last year.
NGO Moviment Graffitti had publicly opposed the project, saying that it was clear that the demolition application intended to herald a much greater development that is not in harmony with the surroundings and would ruin the character of Xlendi bay.
However, the PA’s case officer dismissed the objections on the basis that they were concerned with the second part of the project and were irrelevant to the application at hand and recommended it for approval.
The new application, PA/05500/22, will take up a tract of 846 square metres in Triq San Xmun and Triq il-Punici in Xlendi. The four-star hotel will have 88 rooms, four basement levels, 14 above-ground levels and will include a pool at roof level as well as an indoor pool.
The Environment Resources Authority said that while it had no objection to the construction of a hotel on the site, given that it is within the development zone, it was concerned about the extent and the scale of the development and the impact that it could have on the nearby Natura 2000 sites, namely the Xlendi area, which is designated as a special protection area and the Tal-Kantra valley, a special area of conservation.
ERA has requested super-imposed elevation of the existing and proposed developments as well as photomontages of the proposed building before deciding on the case.
In a lengthy objection, Graffiti said the proposal should be rejected by the PA as it would “greatly intensify” the urbanisation of the area and impact both Xlendi residents as well as plans to attract high-quality tourism in Gozo.
The size and scale of the plans also run counter to planning policies, they argued and would increase congestion, darken the surroundings, add pressure on the electrical and sewage infrastructure, contaminate the bay with the construction and operation of the hotel and radically alter the current tourism atmosphere, which is characterised by small hotels and local restaurants.
The execution of this application would also undoubtedly damage Gozo’s precious natural valley systems, they said.
“This enormous development will entirely ruin the surrounding areas, impacting residents’ quality of life and will destroy natural surroundings,” they said.
“It will also entirely devastate Xlendi and the tourist experience within the area.”