The Planning Authority has approved a 22-apartment block of flats and 20 basement garages near world heritage site Ġgantija Temples, despite a request from UNESCO for a heritage impact assessment.
It voted seven votes to one in favour of the development less than 200 metres away from the temples in Xagħra, Gozo.
NGO representative Romano Cassar was the only board member to vote against it, insisting that the heritage impact assessment be carried out before any decision is taken.
He also highlighted the impact the development would have on the landscape.
But on Thursday, Planning Authority chairman Emmanuel Camilleri said that the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage (SCH) did not ask the authority to require the document.
They also considered that the SCH and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Technical Committee had said they had "no objection to the volume and massing of the building as proposed in the latest drawings".
The development will take place 157 metres from the temples, which along with six other megalithic temples were inscribed as world heritage sites in 1980.
In an email in February, Superintendent Kurt Farrugia noted that the UNESCO World Heritage Centre had written a letter to Malta's Permanent Delegate to UNESCO that "insisted in accordance with the operational guidelines, a Heritage Impact Assessment should be carried out for this development."
The Planning Commission suspended a decision on the application awaiting the impact assessment.
NGOs had previously said that the site lies within the buffer zone of the temples but the case officer at the hearing said that the site lies in an area of archaeological importance but outside the formal buffer zone for the temples.
Hundreds have objected to the development, saying the development would impact the world Heritage status of Ġgantija.
The application was presented by Emmanuel Farrugia.