Eight-storey hotel approved in Mellieha as PA and ERA chairpersons vote against

PA chairman Vince Cassar, ERA chairman Victor Axiak, NGO representative Annick Bonello and Mellieħa mayor John Buttigieg voted against the development which will include an eight-storey hotel and 120 residential units

The development will include an eight-storey hotel and 120 residential units
The development will include an eight-storey hotel and 120 residential units

The Planning Authority has approved an eight-storey hotel and 120 residential units, on a vacant 3,600 sq.m plot close to the former Belleview restaurant, which has now become the Valyou supermarket.

In so doing, the PA overturned a recommendation by the case officer to refuse the development on policy grounds.

PA chairman Vince Cassar, Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) chairman Victor Axiak, NGO representative Annick Bonello and Mellieħa mayor John Buttigieg voted against the development while the other nine members including the government representative Clayton Bartolo voted in favour.

Opposition representative Marthese Portelli who in the last sitting had indicated that she disagreed with the case officer’s recommendation to refuse the permit, was not present in today’s meeting.
 
The development proposed by a company owned by entrapreneur Joseph Portelli, who is involved in a number of development projects including Mercury House.

The project had been recommended for refusal due to planning policy limiting buildings in the area to just three floors, although hotels could benefit from an adjustment policy allowing an extra two floors above that.

In a previous sitting the PA board had indicated that it was ready to overturn the recommendation on the basis of  the so-called flexibility policy.

Green Party chairperson Carmel Cacopardo who was representing objectors insisted that Flexibility Policy provisions state that it cannot be adopted to allow development which is diametrically against the thrust of the Local Plan policies and also that the height limitation of the area cannot be exceeded.

“The Local Plan clearly states that in a residential area hotels are not allowed and thus the Flexibility Policy cannot be adopted, and similarly the additional heights over the hotels cannot be allowed”.

Nationalist MP Robert Cutajar, a former mayor of the town also spoke against the development insisting that the area should remain residential. Cutajar had previously revealed that during his time as mayor, the council had plans for a community centre on the same plot which belonged to government.

The site was sold by the government in 2015, following a public call. The conditions stated that only bids of at least €2.5 million would be considered.

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