by Alan Deidun
Trawling through Wikipedia, I came across the following salient information concerning Ta’Hagrat Temples at Mgarr:
‘The Ta’ Ħaġrat temples in Mġarr, Malta is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with several other Megalithic temples. They are amongst the most ancient religious sites on Earth. The larger Ta’ Ħaġrat temple dates from the Ġgantija phase (3600–3200 BCE); the smaller is dated to the Saflieni phase (3300–3000 BCE).’
Upon being confronted with such inalienable and iron-clad facts, one would expect such Temples to be afforded the highest degree of protection by local authorities, not just on paper but also through tangible means. Well, you guessed it……no place is too sacred on these blessed islands it seems. A permit has been issued on the 15th September for the development of an ODZ plot RIGHT NEXT to the Ta’Hagrat temples. Reading through the case officers’ report (which recommends a refusal, by the way), one finds the following passages, which were conveniently ignored by the MEPA Board, in all its wisdom:
The application is recommended for REFUSAL for the following reasons:
Part of the site lies outside the limits for development defined in map 51 ofthe North West Local Plan and so it is located in an area which should remain undeveloped and open. The proposed vehicular development through the Outside Development Zone would run counter to this scheme and would represent unacceptable urban development in the countryside, thus running counter to Structure Plan Policies SET 11 and BEN 5.
There are no reasons from a planning point of view why the proposed garage cannot be accessed from the schemed road without encroaching Outside Development Zone. The proposal thus runs counter to Structure Plan policy SET 12, which requires valid justification from a planning point of view why development which can be located within scheme is proposed Outside Development Zone.
The Italians would say: ‘Non ho parole’…speechless…..
I appeal to Heritage Malta, Din l-Art Helwa and to anyone else with a modicum of amour propre for the historical heritage of these islands to advocate the expropriation of the plot in question before it’s developed. This is, after all, not that far-fetched since a precedent exists – another permit was granted some years back for another property adjacent to the same Temples and the same property was subsequently bought by Heritage Malta. Lets walk the walk, not just talk the talk, for once…..
This shameful decision by the Mepa board shows that its components are either totally ignorant or they are insensitive to the need of keeping Malta’s precious monuments clear of modern building, or they don’t care preferring to keep the public happy building just about anywhere. Why would such permits be allowed otherwise, where are the heritage advisory committees, and what next? Just because mistakes were made around Ta Hagrat and elsewhere in the past, errors should not be compounded. No other country would allow this.
There is a general lack of respect and understanding of the value of our cultural and natural heritage. We seem to be in a situation of the blind leafing the blind.
Last weekend I visited Bamberg and Rothenburg, both in South Germany, the oldest dates back a thousand years the other, Bamberg, I think was some seven hundred years old. Both protected and preserved to the extend that they use the same building techniques in restoration.
Absolutely beautiful, yet as a Maltese involved with e NGO I felt this to be a bitter sweet experience, envious that we have fools making desicions that effect our heritage and quality of life.
Why do the Maltese people want to destroy our beautiful island. Malta itself is a World Heritage Site as it is so rich in history. It’s always the same…politics/friends in high places and sod the rest….shame on whoever gave the permit..
Petra Caruana Dingli
Buildings have been edging closer to Ta’ Hagrat since at least the ‘60s, but today one would hope for new houses to be kept as far back as possible to preserve what is left of the rural context of this world-class temple. Instead, whether the site is ODZ or not, the bottom line is that an old garage and a piece of open land right next to Ta’ Hagrat are being developed into a two-storey house and garden.
Alaine Apap Bologna
Well said, Petra
What a shame!