DB Group project leads to legal quagmire

Pembroke residents want compensation from Planning Authority • PA says residents’ claim is frivolous, accuses DB of creating the conflict of interest that led court to annul the permit

A photomontage of the db Group 38-storey tower overlooking St George's Bay in St Julians
A photomontage of the db Group 38-storey tower overlooking St George's Bay in St Julians

Pembroke residents have filed a judicial protest seeking damages from the Planning Authority following the court’s decision to annul the permit for the DB Group high-rise.

The protest in the names of several individuals, NGOs and the councils in the area was filed last Friday by lawyer Claire Bonello.

However, in a counter reply, the Planning Authority rebutted the claims, describing them “frivolous and gratuitous”.

In the counter protest filed by lawyers Robert Abela and Ian Borg, the PA argued that the residents did not suffer any damages as a result of the appeals court decision to revoke the DB permit.

In a shock decision by the appeals court last June, the presiding judge annulled the permit given to the DB Group for the construction of the City Centre project in St George’s Bay.

The appeals court found that the PA board decision was null and void because one of the board members – Matthew Pace – had a conflict of interest because he was a partner in a real estate company that was selling apartments for the DB project.

READ ALSO: Six takeaways from the DB court judgment

Pace has since resigned his post on the PA board and the company said it would reactivate its application for the high rise residential tower and hotel.

But the legal wrangle did not end here.

PA accuses DB of creating conflict of interest

In response to a judicial protest filed by the DB Group against the PA, in which it held the authority responsible for the court outcome, the authority is now accusing the company of creating the conflict of interest.

In a judicial protest filed today, the PA accused the DB Group of putting Pace in a conflict of interest when it chose to use the services of a company he was involved in to sell apartments for a project it still had no permits for.

The PA said it was unaware of the DB Group’s actions and the decision to use the services of a real estate company prior to obtaining a permit created “reputational damage” to the authority.