Villa Bologna in Attard has been scheduled as a Grade 1 national monument, the environment group Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) said.

"FAA joins the owners of Villa Bologna in welcoming the news that MEPA has scheduled this property as a Grade 1 National Monument, helping to preserve it for posterity," the group said.

It added, however, that it was still concerned that the area behind Villa Bologna, known as Ta’ Fġieni, might be given up for development.

"MEPA’s Local Plan states that because Attard has a shortage of recreational areas, its open spaces are to be protected. However, changes to the building scheme were passed to render this site developable in spite of a residents’ petition to the contrary.," FAA said.

The issuing of permits to develop Ta’ Fġieni square will not only rob residents of their light, air and recreational space, it will also have a great negative impact on the national monument of Villa Bologna, robbing it of a buffer zone and eroding much of what has been achieved by the scheduling," FAA said.

Villa Bologna was built in 1745 by Fabrizio Grech for his daughter Maria Teresa to Nicolas Perdicomati Bologna, second Count della Catena.

In the 1930s Lady Strickland created a new garden behind the villa, including a spectacular fountain, a sunken pond and vine covered pergolas leading through the new orange groves where grapefruit, tangerines, oranges and lemons all flourish.

Lord Strickland, a former Prime Minister of Malta, died in Villa Bologna in 1940.

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