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Gozo is facing excessive development, the mayors argue. Photo: Daniel Cilia

Gozo minister acknowledges need for rethink on planning

  • Post category:News & Press
  • Reading time:3 mins read

Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri on Monday acknowledged the need to rethink planning in Gozo to conserve what is considered traditional and Gozitan.

Development is being felt more acutely nowadays,” he said, adding that a change of policy was needed to take account of streetscapes, design and building materials.

 

He said a strategic document for Gozo was due to be published soon and would include several proposals related to planning. This could lead to a change in policy which, while not hurting property owners, would seek better planning.

Smart changes in policy could lead to a “win-win situation” as the value of properties would rise while other stakeholders would be pleased by a beautiful streetscape, the minister said.

 
 

Asked about the Gozo Tourism Association’s pre-budget proposal to turn Gozo into a design priority area, Camilleri said many of the proposals made were similar to the goals of the Regional Development Strategy for Gozo.

Concern all round

Overdevelopment in Gozo has become a hot topic of late as the Gozitan property market continues to boom.

Last year, Gozo’s local councils came together to present a united front over the need to stop overdevelopment on the island.

More recently, the Gozo Tourism Association, the Gozo Business Chamber and environmentalist NGO Għawdix all expressed great concern on the issue.

“The way development is happening is worrying,” Gozo Business Chamber CEO Daniel Borg said, adding there was no holistic planning policy or design criteria.

This was destroying the character of many Gozitan villages.

Some parts of Gozo were already gravely damaged. “Xlendi and Marsalforn are irreparable,” he said.

The Gozo Tourism Association’s Joe Muscat said that although development was an important part of the tourism sector, it should be done sustainably.

One example he gave was restoring derelict farmhouses and townhouses into bed and breakfasts.

A survey of the association’s members carried out in summer showed they were deeply concerned about overdevelopment in Gozo.

Gozo as a tourist destination should be improved but what was happening now was destruction, Muscat said.

Gozitan-based eNGO Għawdix said Gozo was now “crippled by excessive and unsustainable growth” and over-construction was the blatantly obvious culprit. 

Construction policy is flawed, it runs counter to what makes Gozo an amazing place of residence and a holiday spot for tourists,” a representative of the NGO said.

The Planning Authority needed to do its job properly and not in a robotic manner.

The policy that had brought about a “demographic explosion” in Malta had pushed a construction boom out of necessity but greed and overdevelopment in Malta had then pushed many to invest in a second property in Gozo, the NGO said.