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MW 26 April 2017

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maltatoday, WEDNESDAY, 26 APRIL 2017 News 8 ERA objections ignored as Dingli guesthouse approved 12-room hotel and restaurant approved in area of ecological importance JAMES DEBONO THE Planning Authority has ig- nored the advise of the Environ- ment and Resources Authority by approving the change of use of the farm house presently used for aq- uaculture into a 12-bedroom guest- house with ancillary facilities con- sisting of a restaurant at basement level beneath the main building, a food production area also at base- ment level below part of the exist- ing field, and a spa, swimming pool, orchards and animal pens within the adjoining field. In a memo sent to the Planning Authority ERA expressed its doubts on the sustainability of the project warning that its approval will cre- ate "demands for additional piece- meal development once the use has become established and consoli- dated". ERA also expressed its concern about the replacement of soft land- scaped areas with formal landscap- ing, construction of new structures and pressures for parking provi- sions. "The proposed will result in the formalization of a rural area, thus affecting the site's predominant natural character". The application presented by Jean Paul Busuttil a director of Sansuna Estates Company Ltd foresees the redevelopment of the site located in Triq Misrah Suffara, Dingli, which lies outside the limits of develop- ment and forms part of a buffer zone to an Area of Ecological Im- portance. Apart from the swimming pool and animal pens the development will not involve an extension of the existing 600 sq.m footprint will in- volve additional development of 551 sq.m at basement level to accom- modate the restaurant and kitchen. The original permit for the ex- tension of the farmhouse and its change of use to a fish culturing unit was approved against the ad- vise of the case officer in 2005. An existing swimming pool, cov- ering an area of 26 sq.m was ap- proved by the previous permit. The swimming pool is to be converted into a spa. The new swimming will cover a footprint of 78 sq.m. In to- tal, the deck area will have an area of 104 sq.m. The project also includes an agro- tourism component "by the intro- duction of fruit tree orchards and an animal husbandry area". Four large animal pens will be located in the middle of the field, each covering circa 65m2. Each of the pens will include an animal enclosure, whilst three of the pens will include a milking area. Three animal pens having an area of 5 sq.m each will be located along the western wall, together with a quar- antine pen. All these structures will be constructed in timber, reaching a height of 3m. The Malta Malta Resources Au- thority had objected to the animal pens, in view that the site is located in close proximity to Misrah Suf- fara Spring. Despite objections by ERA and the Malta Resources Authority the case officer still recommended ap- proval of the application which is deemed to conform to the SPED policy "which promotes the rural area for agriculture and diversifica- tion in support of farming activity in addition to protection and man- agement of the natural and cultural activities which give its distinctive qualities." The case officer also refers to Ru- ral Policy and Design Guidance part 6.2C which regulates the change of use of existing buildings ODZ. This policy lists a number of acceptable land uses for such buildings. The proposed land use falls within sec- tion 5(d) of this policy –" any other use that would result in a wider en- vironmental benefit, provided that the site is already serviced by a road network that would adequately ca- ter for the proposed new use". The proposed use of the farm- house as a guesthouse use is also considered to be an improvement on the existing fish culturing unit, "as it will sustain agricultural use by the creation of an orchard and the construction of an animal hus- bandry area, thus making use of the adjoining field for agricultural pur- poses." The restaurant and spa are con- sidered to be ancillary facilities which compliment the use of the guest house, and is aimed to ensure the economic viability of the pro- ject. Residents in the area have com- plained that the proposed animal rearing area will create a nuisance to neighbours because of odours, whilst the development will gen- erate parking problems while the restaurant will generate noise and other inconveniences in the area. Restaurant proposed instead of old building in Marsaskala JAMES DEBONO ONE of Marsaskala's oldest buildings is being proposed for demolition and turned in to a restaurant and an overlying apartment with a striking contemporary design The building is found between Triq Sant Anna opposite an old chapel and the grounds of Villa Apap Bologna and Triq ix-Xatt, which overlooks the promenade. Although the building is not listed and lies next to modern apartment blocks, it falls within Marsaskala's urban conservation. The Marsaskala Local council has already submitted an objection and will be meeting to discuss this application on May 18. In an objection filed to the PA the council described the buildings as "one of the oldest buildings in Marsaskala probably dating to more than 100 years ago. The Marsaskala Local council urged the case officer to conduct proper research to "ascertain when such a building was constructed and whether it should be preserved as local heritage".

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