Portelli applies for ODZ swimming pool extension to The Valley project in Gozo

Fresh application filed by one of Portelli’s partners seeks to build swimming pool on ODZ land

 

Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli has applied for yet another ODZ swimming pool in Xagħra, Gozo, a 1,645sqm extension to a seven-storey, 24-apartment block in Triq Marsalforn.

The latest application for the swimming pool and landscaping extension to ‘The Valley’ project was filed by Mark Agius, one of Portelli’s known business associates, an application that is connected with the previously approved application from 2018 which granted permission for the excavation of the site, the building of the 24 apartments and an additional 19 garages and parking spaces.

However, while the latest application (PA/07509/21) specifically outlines that the applicant wishes to ‘construct pool with flats approved in PA/09803/18’, there was no mention of any swimming pools in the previous permit nor was there any promotion featuring swimming pools in Portelli Projects’ advertorial video from 2019.

 

The project was flagged in news reports from 2019 which detailed how the application for it had slipped beneath the radar of activists and residents in the area, with no noteworthy objections being submitted to the project in spite of the fact that it lies on ODZ land, as well as partially stepping over Urban Conservation Area boundaries.

In fact, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) had failed to submit any kind of representation or even comment on the project, raising questions about whether the application had been quietly approved – not even the case officer had raised any objections to the inland cliffside development, although there exist well-established planning guidelines meant to prevent such an application from being approved.

More importantly, the location of the development and the site plan of the swimming pool extension application will likely mean that more of the dense maquis vegetation surrounding the project, one of Malta’s key natural environments, will have to be taken up for it.

While the site does technically lie within a development zone, the building replaced an abandoned room, a huge step-up in terms of its footprint and one that arguably goes against several policies such as the urban objectives of preserving character and enhancing aesthetics of an area as envisaged by the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development Goals (SPED).

While the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage had raised concerns about the negative impact the project would have on the area when the first application was filed in 2018 by Mark Agius’ partner, Jessica Agius, the case officer had mainly recommended the application for refusal due to health and sanitary objections.

Once the concerns raised by the Sanitary Engineering Office – over the fact that the project envisaged units 15m below the ground – were deemed to be addressed, the case officer’s recommendation for refusal was overruled by the planning commission, leading to the approval of the project.

Portelli is widely seen as one of Malta’s most powerful developers due to his constant flouting and bending of planning regulations in order to obtain approval for massive projects, with one of the main methods used by Portelli and his associates being the splitting of applications to circumvent requirements for major projects like the need to carry out an environmental impact assessment.

Last week, Portelli applied to sanction illegal excavation works carried out on his massive, 164-apartment block in Qala, much of which was built on contested land relating to the land grab orchestrated by a medieval foundation known as the Beneficio di Sant’Antonio Navarra, a complex scheme designed to claim vast swathes of land that The Shift and Lovin Malta have written extensively about over the past year.

                           
                               
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Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
1 month ago

Now, let’s just see who’s got mettle – or who really has clout!

Last edited 1 month ago by Joseph Tabone Adami
JOHN CASSAR
1 month ago

Imma kif in-nies tax-Xaghra baqaw b’halqom maghluq fuq dan il-progett. Min jaf ghax forsi ghandhom dembhom taht il-blat ?

Charles vella
Charles vella
1 month ago
Reply to  JOHN CASSAR

Xi tridna nghamlu ghid? Kontra dawn il biljunari u pajjiz bla ebda ruh ambjentali? Min jista jwaqqaf dawn il progettijekk mhux il PA u ERA??

Last edited 1 month ago by Charles vella
M.Galea
M.Galea
1 month ago
Reply to  JOHN CASSAR

Taf min messu jitkellem, shabek l Maltin jiddejnu biex jakwistaw l imbarazz u huma izjed jibnu! Kullhadd jghid bihom sahansitra l izviluppatruri li jmorru jixtru l imbarzz minghajr flus! Ghax veru trid tkun gahan biex tmur tiddejjen biex takwista tieqa min blokka mbarazz! X hasra!

Christian Zammit
Christian Zammit
1 month ago
Reply to  JOHN CASSAR

Xaghra Local Council filed objection.

Joe Inguanez
Joe Inguanez
1 month ago

Mr Portelli
This a question: what are the criteria which you us as conscience?

M.Galea
M.Galea
1 month ago

Fejn hemm dik l kruha blokka kienet dar moderna! Kullhadd igennen jpaxxi l izviluppaturi, jaghtihom darhom biex imorru joqghodu go toqba halli jgawdu l,bqija tal flus! X genn hawn!

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