Attempts to build a road through untouched Dingli farmland could jeopardize a medieval building that served as the locality’s parish church in the 1400s, experts have said.
The church, which is found at the end of Sqaq MUSEUM, dates back to the 15th century and is of high archaeological importance, Keith Buhagiar, a senior lecturer from the Department of Classics and Archaeology has said.
He said: “Santa Duminka was Dingli's former Parish Church. The Santa Duminka remains as well as any adjoining tracts of countryside are areas of high archaeological sensitivity and should be preserved at all cost."
“Information is scarce, but it appears that the new projected road will perimeter the Santa Duminka church site on two sides, probably causing irreparable harm in the process which will result in the structural collapse of the already fragile church remains.”
His concerns were echoed by architect Ruben Abela, who presides over the heritage NGO Wirt iż-Żejtun.
He said the planning procedures had "failed massively" and that it was clear nobody had gone on site to value the cultural heritage, which would be destroyed.
“If this road forges ahead as it is in the local plan, part of a historic building will be demolished and the context of this medieval church and any possible archaeological remains that could be found (such as a medieval cemetery) will be utterly destroyed.”
Activists Movement Graffiti have urged the Planning Authority as well as the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage to issue an emergency conservation order to protect the site from the development.
The NGO asked for it to be given the highest protection, Grade 1 scheduling as well as designating it a Class A archaeological site with a designated buffer zone.
On Friday, Dingli farmers and activists blocked Infrastructure Malta from beginning demolition works on the road that would connect Triq is-Sienja with Sqaq MUSEUM, after residents woke up to heavy machines on their doorsteps.
While no permits were issued, Infrastructure Malta maintains it has the right to construct the road as it is schemed on a local plan.
Farmers say the road will damage their livelihoods and uproot trees.
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