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Residents are up in arms over a proposed development on ODZ land in Ħal Għaxaq, with many raising concerns over an architect’s claims that it falls within the development zone.

“Stop with this abuse once and for all,” one resident said. 

Architect and former Labour Party MP Charles Buhagiar applied for full development permission on behalf of applicant John Camilleri. The project looks to construct a restaurant and office space in a vacant green area as part of the neighbouring petrol station.

The public application form claims that the area is not within ODZ. However, a look through the local plans clearly indicates that the plot falls outside the development zone as a strategic open gap between localities.

The strategic open gap can be defined as the space of land left in between villages in order to avoid overcrowding of buildings.

Furthermore, in a consultation submitted by the Malta Tourism Authority for the application, it was also pointed out to the applicant that the site falls within ODZ.

“The Malta Tourism Authority has viewed the proposal and noted proposed development is in an ODZ area,” it wrote. 

It’s unclear whether the omission was intentional, or a genuine error on the architect’s part when he was submitting the application. The PA lists the case category as ODZ.

Buhagiar is a former MP and one of the most prolific architects when it comes to ODZ development in Malta.

Some residents have already submitted their representations objecting to the permit, and stressing that ODZ land in Malta deserves more prioritisation.

“The area is clearly located in ODZ and such an application is not acceptable as it is certainly unrelated to agriculture and goes against established ODZ policies. It cannot be that every field that is adjacent to an arterial road needs to be developed,” one resident said.

While the application shows that the site claims to be within the development zone, the PA case officer should flag the issue in his initial report.

The application is still awaiting a recommendation from the case officer.

Residents of the area are currently urging citizens to file in their representations opposing the project.

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