New villas at Mgarr ix-Xini ruled out by MEPA tribunal

The Environment and Planning Tribunal has confirmed the interpretation given by former Minister George Pullicino that the local plan does not allow any new development at Mgarr ix-Xini thus ruling out the proposed development of the proposed 15 villas at Mgarr ix-Xini

The Tribunal has turned down the appeal presented by hotel owner Victor Borg who had filed an appeal contesting an interpretation of the  local plan in a letter sent to the authority by then environment minister George Pullicino which excluded villas in the area overlooking Mgarr ix-Xini.  The decision has a bearing on a planning application proposing 15 villas overlooking Mgarr ix-Xini. 

The application also includes a substantial extension of the hotel in an area which is even closer to the bird colonies.  This part of the development is not effected by today's decision.

The Appeals Board  had already rejected Borg's appeal in 2013 but the decision was annuled by the law courts because of a procedural error. But the decision was  confirmed again today. In its decision the Tribunal declared that Borg should not have appealed against the letter issued by the Minister but against any final decision taken by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority's board. 

The policy affecting the area says that development should be limited to the "vicinity of the existing Ta' Cenc hotel" opening the door to interpretation over the word 'vicinity'.

Former Minister George Pullicino wrote to Mepa clarifying the ambiguity, and insisted that the local plans should not be taken “in any way” as allowing new development in the area of Ta' Ċenċ overlooking Mġarr ix-Xini.

Apart from the 15 new villas whose approval is now ruled out, Borg is also proposing an extension to Hotel Ta’ Cenc consisting  of 118 new guest rooms. The new guest rooms include 21 trullo suites and 37 regular suites. The development will also include a  new pool and spa. The saga has been ongoing since 1996. The project was set for refusal in 2007 when the Planning Directorate issued a negative recommendation.  Subsequently the project was downscaled.

More in National