An area of land in Gozo with the highest level of archaeological importance while also falling within ODZ is currently under threat by development.
An application to extend a dilapidated farmhouse near Wied Tal-Lunzjata in Kerċem, Gozo has raised major alarm, especially because the site is located very close to a Site of Archaeological Importance (SAI), known as Għar Gerduf and PaleoChristian Hypogea, which is scheduled as Class A.
“The proposed development would also create an unacceptable and irreversible impact on the cultural landscape surrounding the Għar Gerduf,” the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage said.
This development application is proposing the sanctioning of extension to the building, as well as the proposed extension of footprint and additional volumes to permit the reuse as a residence.
The importance of Għar Gerduf is very evident when one considers that it was the only Phoenician, Carthaginian and Roman burial site on the island of Gozo, which was included in The Protection of Antiquities Act of 1925.
The protection was also extended in 2000, which designated Għar Gerduf and a 100-metre buffer zone as a Class A Site of Archaeological Importance, scheduling which is comparable to that given to Mnajdra and Ħaġar Qim.
In the case of Class A scheduling, no major developments can happen within the area, as it is the most important grade of scheduling.
“Hence, the area has a degree of archaeological potential. The existence of cultural heritage remains within the site footprint cannot be excluded. Without prejudice to the eventual position of the Superintendence, any works as may be approved are to be archaeologically monitored,” the Superintendence said.
The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, therefore, opposed the development and stated it found the development application to be objectionable in principle.
Apart from being ODZ, the site is also immediately adjacent to the Urban Conservation Area of Kerċem.
The Superintendence’s report also pointed out that a similar application was also previously submitted for the same site, but it was objected to on the same grounds.
Activist group Moviment Graffitti also encouraged residents and activists alike to submit their objections against the application.
Today is the final day for objections to be submitted against an application for an ODZ development near Wied Tal-Lunzjata in Kerċem, Gozo, and they can be submitted through the Planning Authority website.
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