FAA urges govt to refuse application for demolition of Fgura’s oldest building

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Fgura’s oldest building is about to be granted a demolition go-ahead from EPRT today, having been stripped of its scheduling without warning in February 2019, said the NGO Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar, FAA which is also urging the government and Malta’s environment authorities to really show their committment to Malta’s quality of life by refusing the application.

The NGO explained in a statement that this farmhouse is not just the only simple vernacular building in a sea of characterless modern buildings around it but it harks back to Fgura’s medieval villages and the Ficura family that gave the area its name.

FAA said that the field surrounding the farmhouse could be converted to a much-needed public garden, as Fgura has one of the highest rates of air pollution in Malta, yet no urban green spaces to allow safe recreation and mental destressing in this time of COVID-19.

The NGO mentioned how in 1995 Fgura Local Council had won Grade 3 protection for the farmhouse, as parts of it are known to date back over 200 years and the council had expressed its wish to restore the building, reconstruct its original niche and transform the farm into a much-needed public cultural centre and green open space.

“The significance of this site lies in the fact that these the last fields and trees to exist in Fgura’s urban core, while the old farmhouse stood at the crossroads of the original medieval villages that made up Fgura, facing the 1790 church destroyed in 1955,” explained FAA.

Notarial Archive documents dating to 1505 reveal that the name of Fgura derives from the ‘Ficura’ family that owned fields and farmhouses in this area, of which this is the only survivor. Visible in old maps and photos of the area, the original farmhouse complex was also the site of the Victory Kitchen and wartime shelter, all of which makes this building a symbol of the very identity of Fgura.

The old farmhouse itself incorporated a religious niche, for which the nearby alley is named, and several vernacular features, including ‘xorok’, kileb, animal stalls and mangers, a ‘barumbara’ as well as carved decorations.

Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar mentioned how for these reasons MEPA had refused attempts to have the building descheduled in 2009, 2011 and 2015 but without warning, in February 2019, the Environment Planning Review Tribunal granted the descheduling.

FAA maintains, the farmhouse should be given stronger scheduling than ever and purchased for Fgura residents.