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Għal Għawdex condemns “vast chasm” between Gozo development strategy and implementation

The Għal Għawdex Forum has condemned the difference in words and action on the government’s new 10-year regional development strategy for Gozo.

While welcoming the strategy, they reiterated their their comments during the launch event that  a “vast chasm” exists between “the writing of a strategic document and the actual implementation of its goals and vision which depends on political will, commitment and long term vision from politicians”.

They said that urgent action is needed in three thematic areas identified by the strategy. These are: the promotion of sensible use of land and the natural environment, the re-alignment of economic growth with wellbeing, and the enhancement of Gozo’s identity.

They noted that the island continues negatively impacted from the uncontrolled construction of “characterless” flats. Many of these are “too small to bring up a family, too basic for the quality tourist and too tasteless for long-term foreign residents or digital nomads,” they noted.

They also said that a heavy reliance on the construction industry is not conducive to the creation of a sustainable economic model. The forum noted that the concept of wellbeing has been side-lined as people “are constantly living in fear of big new developments sprouting up next door robbing our homes of sunlight, privacy, views, tranquillity, and peace of mind”.

They noted that aspects of Gozo distinct beauty is disappearing due to uncontrolled development.

The forum welcomed that the government adopted its proposal to preserve Gozo as “an island of villages”.

They lamented, however, that they do not yet see signs of the political will necessary to implement the many other fiscal and policy recommendations. These include: launching a new regional plan for Gozo, extending the Urban Conservation Areas, restricting building on the Outside Development Zones, designating Gozo as a design priority area, enforcing the buffer zone around scheduled buildings and directing the PA to observe already existing policies, rules and regulations, and allowing no loopholes or “creative ways” to bypass Local Plans.

Lastly, they noted that the government took steps to remove the stamp duty, which had become problematic because it was indiscriminately applied.

Government should not indiscriminately remove stamp duty – Għal Għawdex

The forum thus urged the government to urgently adopt its proposals.

News Source: Newsbook Malta