A view of what the proposed Hondoq Bay project could look like
|Email item||Print item||
The Appeals Tribunal at the Planning Authority, yesterday annulled the decision to refuse the Hondoq Project application taken in June last year by the PA Board, noting that the Authority had not followed proper procedure in the rejection of the development proposal.
The Tribunal referred it back to the Board with instructions, “to reappoint the application for hearing after the applicant had been granted adequate time for him to prepare his arguments for the approval of the application in question.”
It also pointed out that the fifteen days notice given by the Board to the developer Gozo Prestige Holidays last year, “was not reasonably sufficient time” to be ready to prepare arguments etc for the June 2016 hearing.
The Tribunal annulled the decision taken at the time by the PA Board and referred it back to them with instructions, “to reappoint the application for hearing after the applicant had been granted adequate time for him to prepare his arguments for the approval of the application in question.”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.
Qala Mayor Paul Buttigieg, has said that the tribunal had concluded that procedures were not followed correctly by the Authority. “So now the case has been sent back to do everything necessary.”
“I find myself very disappointed but I will not give up. This is a procedural mistake which is not going to keep us from insisting that Hondoq remains free for all Gozitan and Maltese,” he said.
The proposed Hondoq project with a total site area of over 103,000m squared, was divided into several zones and consisted a deluxe 5 star 170-bedroom hotel set on 9 floors with all facilities, 25 self-catering villas, 60 self-catering apartments, 200 multi-ownership accommodations consisting of apartments, maisonettes and bungalows, 731 underground car parking spaces – vehicles which would have to drive through the village of Qala as they come and go from the Creek, a chapel, administration offices, 3750 m squared total of commercial area including 10 retail units and five dining facilities, a yacht marina for up to 150 berths – depending on the size of the vessels.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, was also included.
The applicant, following the conclusion of the EIA process with the recommendations of the then Environment Protection Directorate, had then presented a revised master plan, which among a number of changes eliminated the marina, but did include the excavation to form a “laguna-type” bathing area with a beach.
The Planning Authority at the hearing in June last year, informed the applicant however, that the new master plan “constituted a material change and therefore could not be assessed as part of the planning application.”
The applicant then appealed the Authority’s decision not to proceed with a revised assessment, however the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal dismissed the appeal.
Photographs: Daniel Cilia