Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Are you from Birbuba or from Gharb?

Birbuba is in Gharb. Going to Birbuba, one finds himself in the most western part of the island of Gozo leading to the chapel of San Dimitri in the middle of the countryside. The site plan on the left gives an indication of the area. The areas in pink indicate planning or approved applications. The ones in dark red indicate the infringements (illegalities) going on and the big blue area indicates a controversial pending application specifically PA1484/08.

Until few years ago, this area was quite unspoiled. Recently some of the dilapitated farmhouses were restaured by foreign buyers. They did a good job. Anlong the years however, other appartments were built up. Some are still for sale - adding to the over 300 empty dwellings in the small village of Gharb.

Despite the fact that more than one in every three dwellings in Gozo is empty all year round and particularly so within in the village of Gharb, the Housing Authority is proposing to construct a further 34 units of mainly 3 bedroom properties in this village through planning application PA 1484/08 without the infra-structure to support it. There is poor vehicular access, and it is on a bus route. Besides, the current waste system cannot cope with the present amount of houses. To add insult to injury the Gharb Local Council featured this area as part of the heritage walk for the route to San Dimitri Chapel in the western part of the island.

In a press statement issued today, I said that “Such proposals go against with government policy of turning Gozo into an ecological island. It seems that after taking up the concept from Alternattiva Demokratika’s book, gonzipn did not know what it was copying.”

The Green Party’s spokesman on sustainable development Architect Carmel Cacopardo said: “The Housing Authority should back up its past pledge of using already available housing stock and negotiate to buy built-up property, rather than taking more arable land. It is about time that the Housing Authority, instead of being part of the problem starts being part of the solution. We sincerely hope that this application is withdrawn, and the Housing Authority starts thinking on incentives in order that more properties are placed on the rental market, as well as disincentives on keeping properties vacant and in a dilapidated state. If one looks at the thousands of derelict buildings as well as unfinished construction that has been left idle for years in the island of Gozo, one can conclude that the damage done is already severe.”

The photograph above illustrates the present view, which will disappear given that the plan states that there will be two storeys plus penthouse and underground parking. Interesting to note the the Gharb PN Deputy Mayor is already building his share. The DCC meeting no 8302207 held on 30 July 2007 Approved 6-0 To add condition that permit is issued saving third party rights. How pretty!

No comments: