More than 400 Luqa residents are opposing plans to build warehouses and a solar array instead of a large farm outside the development zone at the edge of Wied il-Kbir.
The farm in Ħal Farruġ, across the road from the St Vincent de Paul home for the elderly and a small residential community, includes some 13,000 square metres of virgin land – nearly the size of two football pitches – and is within the limits of a valley system protected under various planning policies.
An application submitted to the Planning Authority, which closes to public consultation today, seeks to demolish the farm and excavate the site to build a complex of warehouses and a car park, with a solar farm covering the roof of the parking area and warehouses.
Although the application says the built-up area will remain the same as the existing buildings, published plans show that most of the rest of the site will be taken up by the parking area, internal roads and landscaping.
The farm is still active, and not disused
Moreover, residents who objected to the plans claim the farm is still active, and not “disused” as stated in the application, a distinction with policy implications.
Hundreds of residents, many from the adjacent streets, have submitted objections to the PA while 120 signed a petition backed by the Luqa local council, which is also opposing the project.
In the petition, residents and the council argue that the development is incompatible with the natural environment or the residential surroundings, and would negatively impact the protected valley.
They also argue that the nearby streets cannot cope with the added traffic, including heavy vehicles, the project would generate.
Moreover, they highlight the fact that the surrounding ODZ area, stretching from the farm to the lower limits of Wied il-Kbir, currently has no warehouses or industrial developments, and that the PA has prohibited residents from opening even small shops in the area.
Concerns have also been raised about the visual impact of the solar farm, due to the reflective glare of the panels and the effect on the picturesque view of Wied il-Kbir from the Ħandaq area in Qormi.
While the application has yet to be assessed by the PA, the Design Advisory Committee has asked for photomontages to give a better idea of the project’s visual impact.