The rape of Ramla l-Hamra goes on -
by Noel Grima

The outline application (PA 5138/02) had requested the “re-development of an existing fully-licensed commercial complex” leading one to believe the application intended to re-develop the existing Ulysses Lodge into a more suitable one that would respect this highly sensitive area which is so sensitive that Mepa itself, claiming the sensitivity of the area had, some years back, refused an application by the previous owner to carry out some modifications on an old farmhouse in the same complex.

But the full development application, which was recently filed with Mepa (PA 7902/05) specifies instead “demolition of existing commercial complex and the construction of dwelling units with pools as per outline permission PA 5138/02”.

So much for the re-development: it is going to be full-scale demolition in one of Gozo’s most beautiful spots.

It is, said Gozo sources, a game of chess, or as if the applicants are getting expert advice how to deal with this application given the sensitivity of the area and given that it is intended to develop a housing scheme of villas with pools.

One asks, what are the specific merits of this application which is being treated as a tourist project?

Why was it not referred to the local planning section right from the outset in order to be evaluated like all other housing schemes that are being studied by Mepa for the revision of the local plans?

One also asks if the board members, prior to their voting on the outline application last July, were informed that a majority of villas in this application are to be sited on a footprint that is not covered by the previous permit.

Or why nobody at Mepa seems to have demanded first an application to sanction the irregularities on the site before considering the new application, as is usually done.

Nor is it true, as this newspaper had said in the past, that access routes to a new development were not considered to require a permit in the old PAPB times.

The fact is that new roads, such as this, even then required the approval of the Director of Public Works and the minister himself, after having obtained special clearance from the Museums Department, since the new road would substitute the old Roman Road, as one can see from any study of the old survey sheets.

One also asks if the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage has demanded the reinstatement of this old Roman Road given its great archaeological importance and the probability it still exists under some of the construction that is now going to be pulled down.

Many people feel that Heritage Malta is still in time to target EU funds in the national interest and buy back the site to revert it to its natural state, as is being done in the case of the Roman Baths in Ghajn Tuffieha.
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09 Jun 2007 by