The Planning Authority has indicated that it will refuse a permit for a guesthouse in Wied Għomor, St Julian’s, which has been operating illegally for more than three months.
The application to convert two newly-built villas off Triq Mikiel Ang Borg, close to Spinola Bay, had been recommended for approval, with no mention made of the fact that the guesthouse, The Valley, had been accepting bookings since at least the start of June without a permit. 

But at a hearing on Wednesday, the Planning Commission concluded that the application should be rejected based on the illegal use. 

The board also cited rural policy which allows a change of use of ODZ buildings only if the replacement “would result in a wider environmental benefit” and if the site is already serviced by an adequate road network. 

The case was deferred for a formal decision next Wednesday. 

The building in Wied Għomor is covered by planning permission for two residential villas and swimming pools, which were approved in place of dilapidated structures on site by successive permits in 2017 and 2018. 

As soon as the permits were approved, the owners filed a further application last year to change the use of the buildings to a 12-room guesthouse. 

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), which objected to the application, said it appeared that the previous applications were merely “steppingstones leading to this proposal”. 

The St Julian’s and Swieqi local councils also objected to the plans, as did environmental groups Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Din l-Art Ħelwa and Nature Trust. 

However, the PA case officer had recommended the project for approval on the basis that it did not include any extensions or additional land take-up, and that guesthouse conversions were more favourably considered than residential under planning policy.

The guesthouse is the latest in a long line of development applications in Wied Għomor - a scheduled site of scientific and ecological importance - in recent years, all of which have been consistently opposed by the councils of nearby localities.

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