An application to turn a disused explosives factory into a bungalow complex for tourists has been flooded with representations opposing the development following a push by activists.

The site, which is outside the development zone and falls within the limits of a Natura 2000 site, between L-Irdum ta’ l-Iħfar and Ix-Xagħra tal-Qaws, comprises some 6,275 sqm and will be split into 14 bungalows, each with its own swimming pool, as well as a management block and ancillary facilities.

Following a public outcry by activist group Moviment Graffitti, 485 people wrote to the Planning Authority objecting to the development, citing the ODZ location covered under designations meant to protect the integrity of the site render the project unjustifiable and should not commit the area for further development.

“Any development on-site and in its surroundings is not justifiable under existing policies due to the highly sensitive nature of the site in question and due to the protection it should have. The proposed project will generate a significant amount of activity in an otherwise completely quiet and rural area, and such an area should be protected from such an increase in activity,” the group said.

Additionally, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage has also opposed the development, saying that the site of the former Pulvich factory should be rehabilitated.

“While noting that the site in question has been designated for use as an explosives factory so as to not pose potential hazard, the superintendence finds that works should not commit this site for development of a non-agricultural nature,” the SCH said in their submissions.

“The superintendence and the cultural heritage advisory committee express concern at the intensification of development as proposed, which would inevitably result in the formalisation of this significant rural and cultural landscape outside development zone.”

The superintendence said it finds that such works are unacceptable in principle and strongly objects to this development application as proposed. The superintendence again urged the rehabilitation of the landscape.

Earlier last month, the Environment Resources Authority changed its stance on the proposed development, having previously objected to similar applications on the same site, citing the impact of extensive development in rural areas.

However in a screening report dated March 29, ERA concluded that the new project would not require an environmental impact assessment and that the proposal is “not expected to have any significant impact on the integrity of the habitat, species and the Natura 2000 site as a whole” as long as mitigation measures are implemented.

The application is being proposed by Sunroute Hotels Ltd, numbered PA/05257/20.

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