Bahrija landowners eyeing ODZ mega-project

The owner of a large tract of Bahrija land outside development zones is eyeing the inclusion of 12,000 square metres of land in a forthcoming local plan re-write by the Planning Authority

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Jurgen Balzan
29 May 2017, 12:37pm
The project spans over some 15,000 square metres of ODZ land in Bahrija
The project spans over some 15,000 square metres of ODZ land in Bahrija
The owner of a large tract of Bahrija land outside development zones, Norman Zammit, is eyeing the inclusion of 12,000 square metres of land in a forthcoming local plan re-write by the Planning Authority.

MaltaToday has learnt that in 2013, Zammit approached a number of potential investors where he informed them that he would ask the Planning Authority, then known as MEPA, for a change in scheme to include his land in the development zone.

Zammit, formerly one of the owners of the controversial Eliza Company, which acquired the Bahrija land, is said to be eyeing the development of a mega-project that will include residential units, a school, an old people’s home, a day-care centre and agri-tourism. The area includes protected zones and agricultural land. The developers have earmarked a circular shaped area, currently occupied by agricultural land, as a strategic open area.

Sources said Zammit has spoken of having targeted investors in Dubai and other Asian countries, who are interested in purchasing Maltese citizenship through the Individual Investor Programme, the conditions of which include acquiring a property for at least €350,000.

The land is part of a larger tract of land in Bahrija purchased by now defunct Eliza Company Ltd for €2.5 million in 1997 from Salvatore Consoli-Palermo-Navarra. While trying to get farmers evicted off the land, Eliza had put up the land for sale in 2005 for €30 million.

The potential of the land in its present state is highly restricted and the market value of the tract of land behind St Martin Church amounts to some €750,000. 

But Zammit is hoping to enhance the potential of the land by having 12,000 sq.m of it included in the development zone. If the Planning Authority does include the land within the development boundaries, the price of the land can shoot up to over €7 million. New local plans are expected to be completed after the 3 June election after being postponed by the current Labour administration. This has fuelled speculation that the juggling of development boundaries and new building heights for Maltese towns will take place after the June 3 general election.

In a statement issued in reaction to the news report, the Planning Authority said “that it will not consider any addition to the development boundaries of Baħrija”.

“The Planning Authority categorically denies that in any forthcoming local plan review it plans to consider including any ODZ land in Baħrija into the development boundaries,” it said.

In 1999 Zammit was charged with the theft of 15 paintings from a villa, together with Generoso Sammut, another former shareholder of Eliza Company.

Zammit, a former Metco chairman, and, Sammut, were accused of stealing paintings, furniture and other items from Villa Fiorentina in Attard. They were later acquitted of the theft due to “lack of evidence”.

Zammit had also been ordered by a court to pay back Bank of Valletta a €1.9 million loan taken out to buy the land.

In 2009, former PN president Victor Scerri was forced to resign his role on the party executive after having developed a farmhouse on land originally acquired from Eliza. The farmhouse developed in the middle of the pristine Bahrija countryside provoked mass outrage by environmentalists and was later put up for sale by Scerri.

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Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...