MaltaToday | 27 August 2008

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NEWS | Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Heritage and safety ignored to make way for Nadur apartments

Residents concerned about geological stability, as DCC takes crucial decision today


The presence of cart ruts and the Nadur residents’ concern on the geological stability of their neighbourhood have not stopped the Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s planning directorate from recommending the approval of a development.
Today the Development Control Commission (DCC) is set to approve the demolition of an existing dwelling in Nadur to replace it with 55 apartments, 11 penthouses and 108 garages next to the old cemetery at ta’ Kennuna.
This massive development is set to take place on a geologically unstable area where one-inch cracks are clearly visible on the cemetery walls as well as on the main road when coming up the hill to the village from Victoria.
Two years ago, MEPA issued a preliminary outline permit on condition that “a geo-technical study carried out by a person competent in this field” is submitted before it considers a full development permit.
The preparation of an ‘Archaeological Impact Assessment’, which should have been submitted with the full development application, was another condition included in the outline development permit.
Yet none of these conditions were ever respected.
Residents claim the land in question lies on very sensitive terrain and that whole area is geographically unstable. They also wrote to Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi after he took responsibility for MEPA to inform him of the danger they are facing.
“Digging up such a massive piece of land to include such a large number of garages and foundations would definitely expose the clay strata, thus weakening even further the already precarious terrain,” the Prime Minister was told.
The MEPA case officer’s report does not deny the residents’ claims. It simply states that this issue is the responsibility of the architect of the project, and that every ‘full development’ permission is issued with the standard condition that a permit must respect third party rights.
Neither was the archaeological report ever conducted. The case officer acknowledged that the outline permit requested an Archaeological Impact Assessment.
But according to MEPA’s own heritage panel this was useless because “this may not reveal any other archaeological features on site, until complete clearance of the site is carried out.”
The panel simply recommended the imposition of a bank guarantee on the developers, to ensure that the works are monitored.
With regards to the existing cart-ruts on site, the panel said that since these were integrated within the project, the project is acceptable.
The case officer has recommended a €69,900 (Lm30,000) bank guarantee so that the cart-rut is retained, and not damaged or destroyed.

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