A prospective policy requiring all new buildings in Gozo to have stone facades has been welcomed by tourism and business lobby groups on the island.
The Gozo Tourism Association said the decision was a “breath of fresh air” while the Gozo Business Chamber described it a “first building block” towards holistic planning.
The new policy is one of the first decisions taken by Gozo and Planning Minister Clint Camilleri since being assigned the planning portfolio last January.
In an interview with MaltaToday released on Sunday, Camilleri said all new buildings in Gozo will need to have facades made of Maltese stone. The same principle will apply to the backside of buildings if these overlook ODZ areas.
Watch the full interview: ‘No one will be allowed free rein because of me’
The GTA said the policy is in line with its views on development on Gozo. “During the past years, the Association has advocated that development in Gozo should be in line with and respects the characteristics and the urban fabric of the island,” the GTA said.
These attributes make Gozo a distinct tourism destination within the Maltese archipelago, the GTA added. It noted the farmhouse concept developed years ago and several recent boutique hotels renovated in local stone were the catalysts for a niche type of accommodation synonymous Gozo.
“This decision is a breath of fresh air in the development frenzy taking place presently on Gozo,” the GTA said, expressing hope it will be the cornerstone on which Gozo’s economy moves ahead in “a different, sustainable and enduring way”.
The Gozo Business Chamber reacted positively to Gozo being considered a test-bed for this new policy, given its small size, distinctiveness, and homogeneity.
“The Chamber believes this is an important first step whereby a regional outlook is adopted to policy making, not one which is national, but one which is place-based, and which takes into consideration the context of the island and preserves its distinct characteristics,” the GBC said.
It augured the initiative should pave the way for further consultation with all the stakeholders on planning matters, where “clear rules and guidelines are required”.
“The Chamber believes that this initiative is the first building block towards a holistic planning perspective for the island which takes into considerations its needs, preserves the environment, and creates an equitable situation for all,” it added.
On Sunday, the minister’s announcement was welcomed by the Malta Development Association.