Roger De Giorgio, owner of the popular Gianpula club and co-owner of Malta Today, has been ordered by the Planning Authority to remove a massive illegal car park built on agricultural land and amend other unsanctioned alterations without delay.
The club, set up in the 1980s in a former farmhouse in the limits of Zebbug, has gradually developed into a clubbing village over the past three decades, despite being located on ODZ land.
In a formal notice issued last week, the Planning Authority is insisting that the owners, De Giorgio and his son Matthew, immediately remove the car park built abusively on arable fields.
The pair have also been accused of the illegal deposition and levelling of material, the removal of part of the front boundary wall onto a public road to form access to their site, the placing of a container, the forming of illegal planters and the unauthorised removal of rubble walls.
The enforcement notice, which demands the De Giorgios take action to reinstate the agricultural fields they defaced, follows an earlier decision by the PA refusing to sanction the illegalities.
Assisted by architect and government consultant Robert Musumeci, the De Giorgios have made various attempts over the years to sanction the illegalities, but these were turned down.
The PA has insisted the fields must not be turned into a car park as they have a significant agricultural value. The Authority also said Gianpula is situated in a peaceful, rural location and the enormous parking lot is contributing to the environmental degradation of the area.
From residence to clubbing village
Originally a small farmhouse surrounded by cultivated fields, Gianpula was first converted into a family home by Roger De Giorgio, who started using part of the building and surrounding grounds as a nightclub on the weekends.
Over the years, the enterprise has expanded enormously, spreading into adjacent fields, and now comprises a clubbing village used all year round.
The developments were implemented gradually via several planning applications submitted along the years, for extensions or for the sanctioning of illegal additions – most of which were approved by the various boards of the planning authority.
De Giorgio is a former PN official active during the Fenech Adami era who is remembered for his organisation of a boycott of the State broadcaster, then called Xandir Malta.
He later distanced himself from the Party and became active in the media industry when he invested first in The Malta Independent, and later in Malta Today.
De Giorgio continued to operate Gianpula nightclub through most of the past three decades. While the early developments were overseen by his late father, a renowned architect, De Giorgio later hired Musumeci.
Musumeci is known for his proximity to the PA’s government-appointed board members and his success in getting approvals on applications for properties located within ODZ areas.
Through his private company, Elvaston, Roger De Giorgio and his family hold a 50% shareholding of Media Today Ltd, publishers of Malta Today and Illum. The other half is owned by Saviour Balzan.
De Giorgio is not known to be involved in the day-to-day editorial direction of the newspapers and is instead considered a financial backer for Media Today.
Elvaston is owned by De Giorgio, his wife Josianne, and their two children, Kristina and Matthew.