Chloe Portelli, 24, the youngest daughter of Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli, has become a farmer and is tilling some 18 tumoli of idyllic agricultural land on the outskirts of Nadur, in an apparent first step to a development permit.
Despite Portelli describing herself as the General Manager of her father’s Quaint Hotels chain, she has been declared by the Planning Authority’s Agricultural Advisory Committee to be “an active arable farmer”.
The Planning Authority is using this ‘fact’ to justify granting permission to build a 20 square metre panoramic store to sell Portelli’s crops.
Through an ODZ development application expected to be decided next week, the novice farmer is seeking permission to build a large agricultural store in the middle of fields, knows as Ġebel l-Ahmar, just below the picturesque Kenuna Tower.
According to pictures submitted with the application, the store, if built, will command uninterrupted views of Malta and Gozo.
At first, the committee objected to Portelli’s application, insisting that there was no proof that the land in question was being used for farming, claiming that some of the fields were not even arable. Yet after a change of plans and the resizing of the proposed store, down from 40 to 20 square metres, the directorate withdrew its objections and said the farmland was now being cultivated.
Despite objections by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), Din l-Art Ħelwa, Wirt Għawdex, Nature Trust, Graffiti, Ramblers Association and other individuals, the Planning Authority is still recommending the granting of the permit, insisting it is in line with policies.
While the NGOs objected on the grounds that the area will be harmed if the store is built, ERA insisted that “the introduction of a structure and formalisation of the site, which is also designated within an area of high landscape sensitivity, is of concern from an environmental point of view”.
“ERA is also concerned that further applications will follow to extend and amend the development, to create a structure which is better suited for residential purposes.”
This type of residential development was built several times in the past using various ODZ applications.
Notwithstanding these red flags and the history of the applicant in question, the Planning Authority is still recommending that Portelli’s application be approved.
The Planning Authority is also supporting the sanctioning of illegalities, already committed by Chloe Portelli and her father on the same site.
Earlier this year, following months of reports, the Planning Authority finally issued an enforcement notice against Joseph Portelli, claiming that he built kilometres of illegal rubble walls in the area without seeking a permit. The massive walls changed the characteristics of the area.
Instead of stopping these violations and returning the area to its original state, Portelli applied for a permit to sanction the walls.
The Canadian-born construction magnate, the developer of the massive Mercury Towers in St Julian’s, has been in the headlines for a number of years.
The most recent controversy is in Xlendi, where The Shift revealed that Portelli is behind three adjacent developments that heritage experts say “will change the character of Xlendi forever”.
Last year, Joseph Portelli was also involved in seeking to turn a dilapidated room in the untouched outskirts of Qala into a sprawling villa. The Planning Authority’s permit was so controversial that he felt the need to state he would relinquish it.