Environmental effect of Buskett retirement home ‘minor’ - developers

Five-storey development would replace Buskett Forest Hotel

Top: The site of the proposed retirement home. Bottom: The design of the proposed five-storey retirement home on the outskirts of Buskett.

Top: The site of the proposed retirement home. Bottom: The design of the proposed five-storey retirement home on the outskirts of Buskett.

A proposed five-storey retirement home metres away from Buskett “would not likely have significant effects on the environment”, the developers are contending.

The owners of the dilapidated Buskett Forest Hotel have applied to demolish the existing building and build a 123-room retirement home, including two levels of underground parking, in the rural settlement of Ta’ Sabbat.

The same owners were already granted a permit in 2010 to build a 58-room hotel on the site, which included conditions banning the transformation of the hotel into permanent residences.

In a Project Description Statement (PDS) for the retirement home application, the developers argue the site “is already committed with development, which, as indicated, has permits for redevelopment for which already a number of studies have been prepared vetted, assessed and approved by [the former Mepa]”.

The developers also state that measures have been taken to ensure that the proposal does not create visual impact on the landscape and rural characteristics of the area. 

The site is already committed with development

“The design and architecture has been planned to draw on the rural aspects of the surrounding areas in an attempt to make sure that the proposals will, as much as possible, blend within its surroundings,” they state in the report, adding that the project would be accompanied by extensive landscaping.

The PDS was published this week at the start of public consultation on the terms of reference for the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) the project will have to undergo as part of the permitting process. In it, the developers state the project is limited to disturbed land, most of which is already paved over, and that the anticipated traffic to and from the new retirement home will have no noticeable impact on the neighbouring road network.

They also state measures will be taken to limit air, light and sound pollution.

Addressing concerns over the increasing number of retirement homes away from urban centres – another ODZ home was approved last year in Għargħur, while another in Wied Għomor is under appeal – the developers argue residents are likely to have a high level of dependence.

“While it is desirable to locate elderly homes and facilities in or close to town centres, such policy stance seems to give little consideration to the level of dependence of the residents that would opt to reside within the elderly home.

“It is understood that those individuals that are fully independent would rather remain in their own homes or choose to live independently,” they said.

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