Environment authority to contest Qala ODZ villa permit

The Environment and Resources Authority is planning to appeal the development permit that will see ruins turned into a villa with pool in a pristine area of Qala

The Qala countryside ruins that will be turned into a villa with pool
The Qala countryside ruins that will be turned into a villa with pool

The environment authority is planning to appeal the Planning Authority’s decision to allow dilapidated rooms in a pristine area of Qala to be turned into a villa with swimming pool.

Sources privy to the situation told MaltaToday the Environment and Resources Authority is concerned that the planning decision will create a dangerous precedent for construction in outside development zones.

The authority is likely to also contest the proof brought forward by the developer that someone lived in the building back in 1921.

The planning board’s decision on Thursday caused widespread anger, not least among key Labour Party exponents, who recall the party’s objections back in 2009 when then Nationalist Party president Victor Scerri obtained permission to turn countryside ruins in Baħrija into a villa.

The decision to grant planning permission was immediately shot down by former prime minister Alfred Sant, former Labour Party secretary general Jason Micallef, Cyrus Engerer, and Qala’s Labour mayor Paul Buttigieg.

All government appointees on the planning board, including Labour MP Clayton Bartolo, voted in favour of the Qala project on the strength of the 2014 rural policy. Nationalist MP Marthese Portelli voted against, as did ERA chair Victor Axiak, NGO representative Annick Bonello, and PA chair Vince Cassar.

The 31sq.m countryside ruin that will make way for a 114sq.m villa with swimming pool is situated on land sold to Gozitan construction magnate Joe Portelli, the promoter behind Paceville's Mercury Towers.

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