The Planning Authority has received an application to turn a large garden in the heart of Lija into an apartment block with underground parking.

If the application by Bugeja & Desira Ltd goes through, it would spell the end of the 800-square metre garden with its 43 trees, located between Triq id-Dejqa and Triq il-Forn in Lija’s Urban Conservation Area.

Instead, a block of 10 apartments will be erected, with five at ground floor level and five above, as well as washrooms at roof level and four levels of underlying parking holding a complex of 49 garages.

The garden’s boundary wall, an existing garage and storerooms will be demolished although two houses adjacent to the garden, built in the 1800s, will have their facades retained.

The Planning Authority is considering a similar application to develop a 400-year-old garden at the crossroads of the Three Villages, Lija, Balzan and Attard.

The request is to demolish the 920-square metre garden and the adjacent baroque residence to replace it with townhouses and swimming pools.  

Objectors to the latest proposed development say traffic would be expected to increase and the development would adversely affect the skyline and streetscape

The apartment block would be close to historically important structures such as the Lija parish church, small chapels and Villa Guorgion, a protected site. 

Objectors also say that one of the houses lying within the development used to be a police station during World War II and a pillar postal box at this site is afforded protection.

They also expressed concern about the extent of the excavation, saying all the affected properties are old houses of character including a small chapel, constructed using traditional architecture features including stone slabs, timber beams, arches and double leaf masonry walls. The works, they claim, would probably cause structural problems to various surrounding structures.

In a representation filed with the Planning Authority, one resident said: “The chase for development while paying absolutely no attention to the character of what is being destroyed leads to a permanent loss of the identity of each village, and a lower quality of life for those living in the vicinity.

“The policies that are being adopted to permit such development can only lead to the complete loss of all our fabric if such developments are permitted to proceed, as the loss of one property leads to a knock-on effect on the remainder of the surrounding properties. Furthermore the roads and infrastructure are not designed to support such large developments.”

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