Hondoq saved as development project rejected by Planning Board
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The Planning Board, this afternoon unanimously voted against granting an outline development permit for the construction of a destination port comprising of a hotel, a yacht marina and a tourist village.
This decision was greeted by cheers from the many locals and environmental NGOs present for the public meeting. A long hard-fought battle by many, including local NGO `Save Hondoq ir-Rummien,' to save the popular Gozo Bay started in 2002 and was finally won today.
The Board cited that although the Gozo and Comino Local Plan promoted the rehabilitation of the damaged landscape, resulting from the past quarrying activity in Hondoq ir-Rummien, the type, scale and density of the proposed project by far exceeds the interventions considered acceptable for the area.
Additionally, the Board also noted, that the project goes counter to the SPED's vision for Gozo, that of being an ecological Island.
The proposed project with a total site area of over 103,000m2 was divided into several zones and consisted in a 110-bedroom hotel set on 9 floors, 25 self-catering villas, 60 self-catering apartments, 200 multi-ownership accommodations consisting of apartments, maisonettes and bungalows, over 1200 underground car parking spaces, a chapel, administration offices, shops and restaurants and a yacht marina for 150 berths.
The project also consisted in the refurbishment of the existing quay to make the swimming area more accessible to the public, improve the kiosk facilities, create an underground public car-park, public toilets, shower facilities and upgrading of the slipway facilities.
Following the conclusion of the EIA process with the recommendations of the then Environment Protection Directorate, the applicant had presented a revised master plan which among a number of changes eliminated the marina but included the excavation to form a laguna-type bathing area with a beach.
The Authority had informed the applicant that the new master plan constituted a material change and therefore could not be assessed as part of the planning application.
Although the applicant had appealed the Authority's decision not to proceed with a revised assessment, the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal had dismissed the appeal.
The Board, earlier in the day, suspended the public hearing which was to discuss and decide a planning application related to the proposed tall building project in Mriehel, Birkirkara. The Board took this position after eNGO Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA), presented a prohibitory injunction request to the Courts. The request was temporarily upheld by the courts.