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MALTATODAY 16 October 2022

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8 NEWS maltatoday | SUNDAY • 16 OCTOBER 2022 JAMES DEBONO A 38,000 square-metre plot of land between Fort St Rocco and the Xgħajra coastline will be tak- en up by 69 villa developments – altogether the size of five football grounds. The plans submitted by Smart City last week for its villa devel- opment will include 11,200sq.m of roads and 17,800sq.m for pub- lic areas, promenades and land- scaping around the fort. The villas will be set on four rows, with the front row on the 7,000sq.m promenade rising to five metres, then 10 metre for the second row, and stepped down again to five in an adjacent third row. These first three rows are subdivided into 52 plots of 500sq.m each. The back row of 17 plots, of 400sq.m rise to 10m in height, and will be separated by a 9,800sq.m landscape area. While occupying a considerable amount of land, the new plans lower the original heights ap- proved, and eliminate plans for a row of six plots directly facing the Kalanka tal-Patrijiet and Fort Ricasoli. Original 2009 plans foresaw de- velopment rising to 14m on the entire Xgħajra coastline, yet the new plans increase the villas from 50 to 69 as a result of a reduction in the landscaped areas. Last year the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage welcomed the height reductions as an im- provement for the line of sight of the fort toward the open seas". Villas originally proposed on the scheduled glacis were also re- moved. The villas will be built on a largely undeveloped area added to development boundaries to Smart City in the infamous 2006 extension of building zones. Apart from the villas, Smart City has submitted plans for an 11-storey hotel and residential units on the site of a temporary car park, directly overlooking Xgħajra. Another application foresees the makeover of the 15,074sq.m laguna area which is set to be replaced by a park and two restaurants. JAMES DEBONO THE owners of the Danish Village complex in Mellieħa are proposing a 7,740sq.m solar farm on degraded land hosting invasive acacia trees, as well as an unused sewage treatment plant and stores. Although degraded, the land in question is partly designated as a Special Area of Conservation. No agricultural land will be taken up by the proposed development. Photomontages of the proposed development indicate that the so- lar farm will not be visible from the Għadira promenade and barely vis- ible when seen from the Red Tow- er. But the development will be more pronounced in the view from the Mellieħa to Għadira bypass and from the road linking Għadira and Popeye Village at Anchor Bay. The Environment and Resources Authority described the proposal as one "in line with previous dis- cussions" and concluded there are "no major environmental concerns" about the proposal. It also noted that the proposal in- cludes removal of invasive alien spe- cies on site. ERA has also concluded that the nature and scale of the pro- posal is unlikely to have a significant negative impact on the nature and integrity of the Natura 2000 site. A masterplan for the area foresees the planting of indigenous trees on parts of the site. The current policy regulating the sector precludes solar farms from being set up in the open countryside, Natura 2000 sites, on garigue, in val- leys, ridge edges or areas of archaeo- logical, cultural or scientific interest and considers disused quarries as the 'preferred' location for such de- velopment. The Planning Authority recently turned down a massive so- lar farm on 45,000 sq.m of agricul- tural land at Mġarr but has approved similar developments in quarries and in the former Bengħajsa landfill. Smart City villas: heights reduced from 2009 plans Danish Village owners want solar farm on Mellieha land Solar farm on degraded land will be visible from bypass and road to Anchor Bay, but not from Red Tower and promenade Photomontage of solar farm as viewed from Mellieha to Ghadira bypass Photomontage of solar farm as viewed from Triq il-Prajjiet (road linking Ghadira to Anchor Bay)

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