Comino bungalows will lead to speculation, Għajnsielem council warns

Hili Ventures insists that bungalows will still be ‘managed’ by hotel operator

The Għajnsielem Local Counci is objecting to the development of 19 bungalows overlooking Sant Marija bay in Comino warning that this will lead to land speculation on the pristine island.

The council’s objection is significant because a representative of the council will have a vote in a forthcoming public hearing where a decision on the project will be taken by the Planning Authority.

While saying that it is not against the upgrading of the existing hotel, while also welcoming the extensive landscaping, and the investment in a new sewage treatment facility, the council expressed its concerned about the possibility of having long-term residences on the island through sales or long-term rentals which would change the whole scope and definition of the project from a tourist-oriented one into a speculative real-estate development.

According to the council this would open the door for the intensification and urbanisation of Comino while potentially creating a need for further ancillary facilities to service the residences.

The council also expressed its concern on the impact of the bungalows proposed in Santa Marija bay. 

In reply, the developers, HV Hospitality insisted that the new bungalows on Comino “are not and will not be for sale” but will be managed by the hotel operator as hotel suites. They also referred to plans which reduce the footprint of the current buildings (including the hotel area) by 5,122 sq.m.

An Environment Impact Assessment presented in 2021 by consultants commissioned by the Hili Ventures had concluded that the development will generate a “large” change in what is a highly sensitive landscape.

The village will overlook Santa Marija bay, creating a sense of a “greater, denser, built-up area” as a change from a tourist complex to private and individually-owned residences will change both the physical and social landscape.  

The EIA also warned that the luxury homes will introduce “a group of permanent residences to an island that is essentially uninhabited and part of the Maltese islands’ rural heritage and environment.”

The EIA described the new hotel replacing the present structure will be a “more subtle building” that will blend in better with the environment. But the number of bungalows will increase and appear closer together, “increasing the density of the built-up part of this area”, the EIA warned.  

According to the EIA, while the hotel will occupy a smaller area with 7,154sq.m to be restored back to nature, an extra 3,697sq.m of land will be taken up at Santa Marija Bay. 

Subsequently the number of bungalows was reduced from 21 to 19, an outhouse pavilion and concierge pavilion and one of the two proposed piers in Sant Maria bay were removed.