Seven-storey hotel proposed at Ghadira bay

Costa del Sol restaurant owner proposing a brand new seven-storey hotel on the site of an existing car park

The new hotel is being proposed in the fields behind the beach restaurant
The new hotel is being proposed in the fields behind the beach restaurant

The owner of the Costa del Sol restaurant is proposing a brand new 7-storey hotel on the site of an existing car park on the northwestern shore of Ghadira beach.

The application, presented by Anthony Curmi in December, foresees the demolition of the existing Costa del Sol restaurant and the construction of a hotel, beach bar, an underground carpark and new residential units.

Curmi is not the owner of the entire site because the car park on which most of the development is being proposed is government-owned land. However, the application presented to MEPA states that the government has been notified of the application and has "granted consent to such a proposal".

The application states that the development will require the felling of trees and would alter vehicular routes.

The permit for the Costa del Sol restaurant was issued in 1979. In 1983 Curmi applied for the construction of a first floor and garages, but the permit was never issued.

Curmi had presented an application to develop a 260 room four-star hotel on the same site in 1994. But the Authority considered the application a non-starter.

The original proposal also foresaw shifting the arterial road leading to Cirkewwa towards the west to increase the site area of the hotel.

The case officer had pointed out that both the entire Costa del Sol beach club and the site of the proposed hotel belonged to the government.

The North West Local Plan does not envision the development of a hotel on the site.

In 1994, the nearby Mellieha Bay hotel had objected to the proposal because of the massive scale of the project.  They also pointed out that they also have an interest in the land on which the proposed hotel is located, which is government property and that no public tender had been issued.

The Planning Authority refused the application on 5 December 1997; which coincided with the two-year Labour administration.

In its decision, the authority argued that the development was located outside development zones in an area where no hotel development is foreseen by the structure plan and the draft local plan issued in 1995. 

The case officer also pointed out that the project would involve the transfer of a considerable stretch of coastal area from public to private ownership and would detract the scenic value of the area.

Subsequently, the developer appealed arguing that the development was set to take place on degraded land and that he had no intention to hinder public access to the beach.

In 2000, the Planning Appeal's Board, composed of Simon Micallef Stafrace, Lino Bianco and Samuel Formosa took note of "procedural errors" in MEPA's processing of the case and ordered the authority to start processing the case again. In fact, the local plan approved in 2006 took note of the appeals board decision asking MEPA to reconsider the application.

But plans for the area were put on hold MEPA pending decisions on Ten-T road project. One of the options considered by the previous government was the relocation of the arterial road from the foreshore to an inland location, converting the existing road into a pedestrian priority area. One of the proposals directly impinged on the car park area. 

The controversial proposal was shelved following protests by environmentalists and the owners of the Mellieha Holiday Complex.

The scramble for Ghadira

In the past decade MEPA has approved a number of developments on this part of Mellieha. These included the Sellum development - owned by Tumas Group - on the northeastern fringe of Mellieha and a major extension of the Sea Bank hotel, which was controversially approved in 2010. 

In 2007, MEPA also issued an outline permit for 30 new units at the Mellieha Holiday complex, popularly known as the Danish village. Six years later, MEPA still has not issued a full permit for this development.

MEPA is also faced with a controversial applications for a beach concession for the Mellieha Holiday complex on a small stretch of garigue, sand and rocks situated between the first beach opposite the Seabank Hotel, and the larger beach opposite the bird sanctuary.

Mellieha Bay Hotel, which is partly owned by Mizzi Associated Enterprises Ltd, had also presented an application to develop 98 new units including 47 bungalows on the pristine area surrounding Mellieha Bay Hotel in 2007.

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Here we go again , nothing new.
God Forbid. Not only will the public be deprived of the use of public land, the proposal shall continue to render the largest sandy beach in Malta uglier and dirtier! I hope that common sense and respect for the enviroment and general public shall previal during the discussions at MEPA
So this is the end of Mellieha Bay then!We have managed to turn Malta into a concrete jungle.