The latest planning applications in Xlendi are just the most recent potential developments in an area of Gozo that is increasingly losing its character.
In the past, people would think of Gozo as a pristine island full of countryside, beautiful coastal areas, having unique character and as being a better, less built up version of Malta. It was, and still is, an idyllic summer destination.
But over many years, parts of Gozo have succumbed to the same greedy development style found in Malta, where towering apartment blocks replace sea views. Xlendi is one example of how greedy developments are slowly ruining the locality. While the seafront is lined with restaurants, the hill is stacked with one apartment after another. Aside from obvious infrastructural issues – and by this we refer to drainage infrastructure – continuing to build up the area will only further its uglification.
Square, bland, plain and uninspired. These are some ways to describe the buildings on Xlendi hill. Architects could have found ways to make the buildings look more appealing. The Planning Authority could have done a far better job in terms of unifying design. Building up a locality is fine, but there are ways to do it, and ways it shouldn’t be done.
Maltese People who want to sit by the sea in a built up area might as well go to Bugibba or Sliema. Why go to Gozo for the same experience?
Xlendi is not the only locality that is suffering this fate. Marsalforn has also, as blank walls on the side of apartment blocks dot the outskirts, and high apartment blocks adorn the seafront. Xlendi and Marsalforn have other issues. Parking is already problematic during certain times of the year, and increasing development in those areas will make the problem worse.
Both localities still retain some character, and both are hot spots for tourists and Maltese alike. But further development would result in more Maltese realising that there is no point heading to the sister island, when it looks just like home.
Fears grew when the Gozo tunnel was announced, that it would lead to an amplification of the hotchpotch building style.
Justyne Caruana had told The Malta Independent, when she was Gozo minister, that Gozo will not become another Malta. Yet, in some areas it already is, and this without the link even having been established. There is no way people will stop Gozo from developing in a hotchpotch manner if a tunnel is introduced with the current regulations in place as, in reality, certain areas have already been developed in that way. The tunnel will only make things worse in that regard.
Gozo needs more protection if this tunnel is to go ahead. Parts of Malta have been lost to greedy development, as have parts of Gozo. Perhaps the time has come for the Planning authority to stop bowing to developers, introduce stricter visual guidelines and use their minds in terms of protecting the Maltese and Gozitan skylines and the attractiveness of our localities.
Original article found on The Malta Independent