31 JULY 2002
AX Holdings yesterday reacted strongly to the Lija Local Councils decision against granting the company permission to develop a home for the elderly in the locality.
"The Lija Local Councils decision to go against the application for an old peoples home in Lija is very unfortunate," AX Holdings Chairman Angelo Xuereb commented.
"We are surprised that the Lija Local Council is against this social development, when the councillors know that there are many elderly in Lija and the surrounding towns and villages. The problem of the lack of such homes is becoming more acute across the island and many local councils are asking the Government to build housing for the elderly in their locality. There is a great demand for old peoples homes and complexes."
AX Holdings explains that, being a social project, the proposed development would only be economically viable if located outside a development scheme as otherwise the daily rate for the elderly would not be affordable. This is the situation for all social projects including social housing and schools, amongst others.
In the case of this project, the site is adjacent to a built up area so the impact, if any, would be minimal and the application for the development of the site, turned down in 1996, was for a private residence which is of a completely different nature to that proposed by AX Holdings.
On the contentious issue of the removal of olive trees from the proposed location, Mr Xuereb explains, "We have no intention of destroying the 40 olive trees found on the site. The area for the proposed project will not all be built up. The project will incorporate large gardens and the majority of the olive trees will be retained. While admittedly a few trees will have to be shifted, these will be replanted in some grounds."
The project proposed by AX Holdings provides for small units with their own kitchenette/living area and terrace. Other facilities include a chapel, a multipurpose hall, a dining area and a clinic.
The company explains that the project is not expected to create any infrastructural impact for example there will be no increase in traffic since the access is from Mosta Road.
Furthermore, the company is adamant that the Lija site is ideal as it is centrally located and would be of benefit to residents of the surrounding towns and villages besides Lija, including Attard, Balzan, Birkirkara, Gharghur, Mosta and Naxxar and is also easily reachable by public transport.
Mr Xuereb adds, "The Maltese have the tendency of placing the elderly in homes. It is important that the elderly are treated properly and with respect. It is the intention of AX Holdings to provide a complex where the elderly can relax and enjoy their days. The private sector has taken the initiative to invest in such social projects which will alleviate the burden from the Governments capital expenditure.
"Before trying to shoot down the project, we invite the Lija Local Council, and other interested organisations, to discuss with us the aspects which they do not agree with."