The Planning Authority’s evaluation process for two connected development applications linked with Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli in Qrendi “completely ignored the rights of existing residents”, Din L-Art Ħelwa’s (DLĦ) executive president told The Shift.
The applications reported by The Shift last week exposed how the sites were being marketed for sale before permits have been issued. “This can be seen in the comments of residents filing representations – too much traffic generation, shadowing of relatively narrow streets, skyline.
The interface between rural villages and rural areas is being completely transformed, for what is effectively residential development of poor architectural quality,” Alex Torpiano argued.
The two applications, filed by CF Developers Ltd, a company in which Portelli is a shareholder and which employs the chairperson of the Building and Construction Authority, Maria Schembri Grima, as the architect fronting the development, envisage residential complexes up to four storeys high on previously undeveloped land.
DLĦ was among the objectors to one of the applications filed by CF Developers Ltd, arguing that the development “does not suit the character and distinctness” of the quiet, residential streetscape of the area.
When being evaluated by the Planning Authority’s (PA) case officers, the proposals were recommended for approval, with both case officer reports outlining that they fall within the permitted height limit allowed by the Development Control design policy published in 2015 (DC15).
“These are the types of developments that are ruining Malta and Gozo – no consideration is given to other parts of DC15 and the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED), including context, streetscape and scale, and so on,” Torpiano added.
The Shift’s investigation of the two applications filed by CF Developers Ltd in Qrendi confirmed that although the applications have not yet been formally approved by the PA’s board, a Facebook page named Direct Properties was already advertising the development since at least 1 January.
“It is obvious that DC15 is wrong, for the simple reason that it is giving the wrong results. The argument that this policy cannot be tweaked because it impinges on perceived development rights, which do not exist, is clearly flawed because in most cases it is big developers who are abusing these ‘rights’,” Torpiano said.
“Din l-Art Ħelwa continues to object to these types of bad development proposals, while the Planning Authority hides behind policies it has created itself instead of acknowledging the harm being done and amending them,” he added.
PA/8753/21 lays out plans for excavation and construction of 50 garages and 56 residential units spread out on four floors including penthouses featuring jacuzzis and pools. The site area covers a total of 1,640sqm.
“The proposal includes the construction of two blocks of apartments, one on each frontage, having their backyards wall in common. The proposed residential development consists of 11 one-bedroom units, 21 two-bedroom units and 24 three-bedroom units, for a total of 56 residential units,” the case officer’s report reads.
As for PA/8754/21, the applicants seek to develop a four-storey apartment building featuring eight garages at ground floor level, pools, 11 apartments and two penthouses. The site area covers a total of 346sqm.