Notices published by two Xlendi restaurants informing the public that they will close due to major works have alerted the public to the imminent construction of two huge apartment blocks in the once traditional fishing village.
The notices were published to social media platform Facebook.
One of the restaurants, the Boathouse, told its patrons that it was planning a return in the first part of 2022 in a “brand-new environment.”
In reality, the development cements the way for blocks of apartments above popular restaurants in Xlendi.
The developments, to the right of the bay from the road leading to it, seem to have gone under the radar and have been described as the “final blow” by objectors, envisaging the “horrendous sight for anyone stupid enough to visit Xlendi”.
Another posted on Facebook: “Goodbye to the last piece of old Xlendi. Thanks to the usual ruthless Gozitan destroyers.”
PA/07735/19, approved last year, paves the way for the demolishing of the existing Boathouse and the construction of a six-storey building, with the restaurant on two floors and four overlying flats.
The adjacent Stone Crab is also up for development with a permit, PA/02563/18, approved back in 2019, for a seven-storey building, following demolition of the existing two floors to construct the restaurant and a hotel. Indications are that the start of demolition and construction is imminent.
Din L-Art Ħelwa Għawdex will be monitoring the permits and will make any representations needed, it said, concerned they may be treated as one project.
Munxar mayor 'no longer surprised'
While expressing his concern about the looming developments, Munxar Mayor Damien Spiteri was also relatively resigned to the situation, saying he was no longer surprised, given the host of similar applications that have besieged Xlendi.
It was “predictable” that similar high-rise buildings a few metres away, on the other side of the once picturesque bay, would also take root in its last surviving characteristic corner. This was the price of decisions that did not make sense, taken years ago, he said of the domino effect.
“Now, it is too late to say no and make a fuss about the remaining two-storey properties after the others have become blocks of seven floors.”
The seaside village is overtaken by controversial high-rise buildings that are scaring visitors away, Spiteri acknowledged.
“But it is the policies that need to be attacked if we are to move forward,” the mayor believed, referring to a free-for-all on aesthetics and façades.
“We need to nip in the bud the first application that threatens to ruin an area before a precedent is created and everyone starts riding on it. Ideally, this should have been tackled years ago when the bay was still undeveloped,” Spiteri said, adding that other restaurants on the opposite side have now been built on.
“We need to make a collective effort to influence policymakers because it is useless going to the Planning Authority board with all the good arguments but no legal basis,” he insisted.
Images of the projects’ plans have done the rounds, with Gozo residents bemoaning how difficult it has become to live on the island, with no respite from nerve-racking dust, noise and deviations due to the constant road and building works.
“Poor Xlendi! This is the pits,” said one objector.
PN deplores how Gozo's character is being lost
The Nationalist Party in a statement deplored how Gozo's character is being lost to building development.
It said the way permits were issued in the past eight years of Labour government showed scant concern for the island's character and beauty. This was a short-sighted policy that would have consequences in the coming years.
The party said it acknowledged that those having property wanted to maximise its value, but this had to be done within the context of safeguarding Gozo's identity in the interests of the common good.
Unfortunately, in the past eight years, the Planning Authority, under the government's direction issued permits without proper consideration of esthetics, environmental and economic sustainability and the preservation of Gozo's unique character.
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