Gozo Labour MP Anton Refalo’s hotel in Qala ‘objectionable’ says ERA

Environment and Resources Authority objecting to a hotel proposed by the wife of former Gozo minister Anton Refalo in the Tal-Malvi area of Qala, in Gozo

Gozo minister Anton Refalo
Gozo minister Anton Refalo

The Environment and Resources Authority is objecting to a hotel proposed by the wife of former Gozo minister Anton Refalo in the Tal-Malvi area of Qala, in Gozo.

The authority said the proposed development was located outside development zones in a pristine area of Qala, and expressed concern that approval of a hotel in the area would result in “foreseeable pressures for subsequent future ancillary interventions and activities”.

The ERA declared that the proposed hotel was “objectionable in principle”.

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage also alerted the Planning Authority to the fact that part of the property has “evident historical value”, noting the presence of a “cave”, the nature of which is unclear.

While calling for more information on the proposal, the Superintendence noted that the latest application was the last in a series “leading to an incremental extension and intensification of development outside development zones.”

Piecemeal development on the 2,000sq.m site, including various additions to the existing farmhouse, a swimming pool approved in 2004, and extensive landscaping works carried out between 1998 and 2018, have drastically changed the topography of the site as can be confirmed by a comparison of aerial photos taken by the PA.

In 2009 the PA justified the regularisation of a reservoir and landscaping works as these were in line with the landscaping layout already approved in the previous applications, while the reservoir was deemed acceptable as it complimented the use of the garden.

All applications presented up to 2004 had been presented by Anton Refalo who was already a Labour MP at the time. But all applications presented on the site after 2009 were put forward by his wife Lina.

The latest application foresees excavations beneath the farmhouse to accommodate hotel rooms and ancillary services. The 2014 rural policy allows the development of basement levels and facilitates a change of use of legal establishments.

Refalo served as Gozo minister between 2013 and 2017 and is today chairperson of Malta’s national heritage agency, Heritage Malta.

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