Marsaskala council disappointed as derelict Jerma still stands

The Marsaskala council wants the authorities to take urgent steps to safeguard residents’ wellbeing by forcing owners to remove the dangerous building

The derelict Jerma hotel in Marsaskala
The derelict Jerma hotel in Marsaskala

The Marsaskala council is disappointed by the planning tribunal’s decision to uphold an appeal by the owners of the derelict Jerma hotel, which has effectively blocked its demolition.

The council has long been clamouring for the abandoned building to be demolished. The place has been turned into a dump and is a den of abuse.

“The council strongly believes that this building should be demolished in the shortest time possible. Residents have been waiting for years for this dangerous building to be removed and the authority should take urgent steps to safeguard residents,” the council said.

The council was reacting to a planning tribunal’s decision last week to uphold an appeal by the Montebello brothers, owners of the Jerma, against an enforcement order seeking the building’s removal.

It was a technical error by the Planning Authority’s enforcement section that ultimately was the reason why the Montebello brothers were sparred the expense of demolishing the hotel.

The enforcement order attached to the Jerma site referred to "the owner” and not to site owner Jefpet Ltd, a company owned by Peter and Geoffrey Montebello.

The Planning Authority said it was appealing the tribunal’s decision by taking the matter to court.

On Sunday, the Prime Minister expressed his disappointment at the tribunal’s decision, lending his support to the Planning Authority’s decision to appeal the judgment.

Jerma was Malta’s most prestigious hotel in the south. It opened its doors in 1982 and cost €16.3 million to build. Until it closed in 2007 it was operated by the Corinthia chain.

The Montebello brothers bought the site and filed a planning application to develop a hotel and luxury apartments in 2008.

But the brothers dropped the plans after running into financial troubles.

An attempt to sell the hotel site by court auction in 2016 was unsuccessful. A court expert had valued the former hotel and its surrounding land at €20.8 million. It would cost €1.5 million to demolish the building.

The Jerma site covers an area of 38,745 square metres.