The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, several NGOs and the Dingli council have objected to an application to build a villa with a pool on the locality’s picturesque cliffs, leading the architects to suspend the process.

The Outside Development Zone application seeks a permit to demolish an existing building and rebuild a residence with a pool adjacent to a building known as It-Turretta, which had been used as an Armed Forces of Malta base and which serves as a meteorological monitoring site.

PA5459/21, filed by Marco Aquilina, seeks to replace a number of rooms previously used for farming purposes in Triq It-Turretta and Triq Panoramika.

It proposes excavation to create a basement level for a games room and domestic stores, and an overlying ground floor level with kitchen and living area and two bedrooms and the master bedroom with an ensuite on the first floor.

Although the application refers to the demolition of the residence, objectors noted that it was never used as a residence. It was originally a small room used for farming, and photographic evidence shows sheep on site.

The site has a history of illegalities. In 2003, an application was filed to turn it into a residence. By the time this application was approved in 2009, the Planning Authority sanctioned the construction of two rooms instead of the original garage. In 2014, yet another application was filed to renew the previous permit, which was due to expire. This application was granted.

The site has a history of illegalities

The superintendence said it noted that this application is the latest in a series of applications that have included the sanctioning of unauthorised works and that has led to an incremental intensification and consolidation of development at this sensitive location.

“The superintendence expresses its concerns on the intensification of development in ODZ, at a location which immediately impinges upon an area of high landscape value, intended to protect a natural landscape of iconic significance,” it added, noting the “irreversible impact” that will be caused by the proposed excavation as well as the “inevitable increase in visual impacts”.

The proposal was also met with strong objections from several NGOs including Din l-Art Ħelwa, the Ramblers Association, Moviment Graffitti, the Archaeological Society and Nature Trust Malta, which all insisted the development application and any preceding approvals to remodel the rooms should be revoked.

Objectors noted that the building in question “is a prime specimen of vernacular architecture” and has traditional imrammi – very thick walls – which are in very good condition. They called on the authorities to give the property complete protection.

They insisted that residential buildings, particularly with pools, should not be allowed to be built on ODZ as well as Natura 2000 sites, especially when the existing buildings are not used for residential purposes.

According to the application status on the Planning Authority website, the application process is currently suspended at the request of the architect, JG Periti.

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