Hondoq project saga continues with appeal decision due Thursday
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Tomorrow afternoon, the Planning Authority Appeals Board will be giving its decision on the appeal by developers Gozo Presitge Holidays, against the refusal of the Hondoq project application.
The appeal has been ongoing since October 2016 and it has been a long hard-fought battle started in 2002 by many, including local NGO `Save Hondoq ir-Rummien‘ as well as the local council, to save the popular Gozitan bay.
The Planning Board, at the end of June 2016, 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.
At the time the Board had 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.
The Board also noted, that the project goes counter to the SPED’s vision for Gozo, that of being an ecological Island.
The proposed Hondoq 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.
It 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.
However, the Authority at the hearing 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 at the time had appealed the Authority’s decision not to proceed with a revised assessment, the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal had dismissed the appeal.