Gemxija Crown Ltd applies to renew controversial Mistra permit

Although the PA has issued the permit in Mistra, no development has taken place on the site during the past five years

Developers have applied to renew the controversial permit issued for a 12-storey development on the site of the controversial Mistra village which was approved by the Planning Board in October 2013.

This time round the application has been presented by developer Charles Camilleri on behalf of Gemxija Ltd.

Camilleri is the same developer who has proposed a 13-storey development on the Jerma, another site previously owned by JPM Brothers Ltd.

The Jerma development is being proposed by Porto Notos, a company owned by Camilleri and Pierre Lofaro, while the Mistra development is still being proposed by Gemxija Crown Limited, a joint venture between Kuwaiti and Maltese investors JPM Brothers.

Although the PA has issued the permit in Mistra, no development has taken place on the site during the past five years.

The permit will expire in January next year as permits are only valid for five years after the decision is published.

In 2016 the Times of Malta had reported that Gemxija Crown Ltd, a joint venture between Kuwaiti and Maltese investors, had dropped the project because the necessary funding was not tapped and the foreign partners lost interest in view of developing property market conditions.

Subsequently the law courts upheld a request to suspend the judicial sale by auction of the Mistra Village Holiday Complex amidst a dispute between JPM Brothers and Kuwaiti company Al Massaleh Real Estate Co (AML).

The approved permit envisages six rectangular blocks to rise to a maximum of 12 floors from street level and 13 floors from the internal pedestrian level. The development will include 744 new units and a 1,800sq.m retail area, which includes a supermarket.

This represented a 20% reduction from the development approved in a preliminary outline permit issued in 2008.

While government insisted that the PA board had its hands tied by the original outline permit,  environmentalists insisted that the outline development permit, granted in 2008, was done in the absence of important and relevant information and should have been annulled.

An investigation by architect David Pace – environment and planning officer at the Ombudsman’s office – concluded MEPA was wrong to issue an outline permit in 2008 and continued to make the situation worse when it chose to green-light the full development of the site in 2013.

The development will now have to be assessed according to policies approved after 2013. In particular, a policy regulating tall buildings does not include Xemxija which is earmarked for medium-rise development.  Moreover, the development will have to be assessed according to the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development which, in principle, calls for the urban sprawl to be contained, while encouraging development in urban areas that are well served by public transport and existing infrastructure.

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