Developers of the €120 million Ħondoq ir-Rummien project in Gozo have filed an appeal after the planning authority refused to accept fresh plans that eliminate the marina and replace it with a swimming lagoon.
Two months ago, the planning authority informed the developers that the new plans had to be submitted in a new and separate application because they went beyond the site area listed in the current application.
The highly controversial project has been slammed by environmental groups and by the planning authority’s environment unit that had described it as “objectionable” while calling on the authority’s board to refuse it.
The proposal is to build a five-star hotel, 285 flats and villas, 731 underground parking spaces, 10 shops, five restaurants and a 150-boat marina.
A spokesman for the planning authority said the developers have filed an appeal as well as a proposal application to build a swimming lagoon.
However, Moviment Ħarsien Ħondoq claimed this was merely a delaying tactic. “For the past nine and a half years since the application was submitted, Mepa spent most of the time waiting for the developers to submit information,” the movement said.
With a recommendation for refusal from the environment unit and Transport Malta, the next and last step in the process was the development planning report before the application appeared before the board, the movement said.
“Why was a new plan filed just before the planning report was about to be finalised?” the movement asked. “Everyone knows that, if they ever get the permit, nobody can stop them from applying to sanction which means changing it back to a yacht marina,” it pointed out.
The movement agreed with Mepa’s decision not to accept the latest application and hoped the board followed suit.
The environmental groups are calling for the Ħondoq area to be converted into a national park, run by the council, and rehabilitated into an open space for everyone as was originally in the area’s local plans.
Together with another six environmental groups, Moviment Ħarsien Ħondoq set up an online petition, which has already attracted almost 4,000 signatures, urging the planning authority to turn down the project.