Criticism of a Planning Authority decision to approve a new apartment block close to the UNESCO-protected Ġgantija temples in Gozo has now spread overseas, attracting ridicule and condemnation from readers in the UK. 

On Friday, the  London-based newspaper The Times reported the Planning Authority’s (PA) decision to allow a 22-apartment block of flats to be built less than 200 metres away from the Ġgantija temples. 

Characterising the local reaction as one of “horror”, the news outlet noted that at 5,600 years old, the temples are the world's oldest remains of a free-standing building and the world's second oldest religious building.  

It may come as no surprise that UK readers were unimpressed by the PA decision.  

“The Maltese planning authorities are disgraceful. There is no regard for anything other than money,” wrote Ollie Beckwith.  “Malta used to be so beautiful now it is full of ugly buildings. The nice ones have been dropped to make way for flats. Shameful.” 

Reader James Hollingworth also commented on the changes to the country, saying he’d noticed a change in just over a decade between visits: “First went to Malta 2007. Wonderful. Last went in 2019; completely different and much less enjoyable... Doesn’t bode well.” 

Echoing their comments, Ian Girvan said “The desecration of Malta continues,” while Rita Fennell described the slew of development as “out of control.” 

The state of politics in Malta was also the subject of criticism, with commentators branding the country's development “corruption", “skullduggery” and a “gravy train” [a source of easy financial opportunities]. 

One person, meanwhile, chose to level their criticism at UNESCO – which had requested a heritage impact assessment for the site before any development could go ahead – calling the UN body “a waste of money.” 

The Times picked up news of the PA decision.The Times picked up news of the PA decision.

The UK is Malta's second-biggest tourist market after Italy, with well over 100,000 passengers travelling from Britain to Malta each month this year. 

While comments from those abroad might not worry everyone, they suggest Malta's image as an idyllic island is no longer as pristine as it once was.   

And with the Ġgantija temples almost one thousand years older than Egypt’s oldest pyramid, how the company treats its ancient monuments is likely to continue to attract scrutiny.  

Nonetheless, despite the overwhelmingly negative reactions to this latest controversial decision from the PA, one reader still found the time to lighten the mood.  

“How do you make a Maltese cross? Build an apartment block overlooking the oldest building on the planet”, quipped Jo Hood.  

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