Clint Camilleri questions wisdom of more development on Comino

Minister did not specifically refer to the 16 bungalows proposed by HV Hospitality but questioned the wisdom of more development after government ‘insensitively’ clamped down on campers

Photomontage of the proposed bungalows that will form part of a wellness retreat bing planned on Comino by HV Hospitality (Photomontage prepared by HV Hospitality)
Photomontage of the proposed bungalows that will form part of a wellness retreat bing planned on Comino by HV Hospitality (Photomontage prepared by HV Hospitality)

Planning Minister Clint Camilleri has questioned the wisdom of further development on Comino in a veiled dig at Hili Ventures’ bungalow project.

Camilleri was addressing parliament on Wednesday during a discussion on the Environment and Resources Authority’s annual report.

Camilleri questioned whether more development should be allowed after the government clamped down on deckchair operators and campers.

“Some are asking, whether after the government has regulated deckchairs and other activities, and after it insensitively but with valid reasons stopped people from camping in an unorganised way by allocating a designated camping site for their use, should we allow more development on this pristine island?”

The only major development application in Comino is that being proposed by HV Hospitality, a subsidiary of Hili Ventures. The development was already given a clearance by the Environment and Resources Authority but is waiting for a Planning Authority permit.

The minister did not specifically refer to the Hili plans to redevelop the shuttered Comino hotel and bungalows but insisted any development “should benefit the people”.

HV Hospitality wants to develop the old hotel resort into a five-star wellness retreat managed by the Six Senses brand. The company owns the land and the project has been scaled down from its original proposal.

Camilleri told parliament that development on Comino should not just “not harm the ecology” but even more importantly “it should not be at the detriment of the people”.

He described Comino as the only island in the Maltese archipelago with minimal development. 

Interviewed by MaltaToday in March 2023 Prime Minister Robert Abela had not excluded development in Comino but only as long as its footprint was not bigger than the existing hotel and bungalow footprint. 

On its part HV Hospitality insists that the development has been contained within the built up footprint of the existing bungalows and surrounding sports facilities.

The latest plans envisage the development of 16 bungalows over a footprint of 4,615sq.m, down from 6,066sq.m as proposed in 2022. Presently the bungalow area including the service areas and sports facilities occupy a footprint of 4,587sq.m.

But environmentalists insist that their major objection to the bungalow area is not just related to the footprint but to the idea of having a village which is used all year round located in a Natura 2000 site, something which they say goes against the spirit of all present-day environmental policies.

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) has still not published a visitor Carrying Capacity Assessment for the island of Comino, a requirement emerging from the approved Management Plan for the island.