Corinthia flattens Hal Ferh complex before residential villas permit is even decided

Corinthia Group has flattened a parcel of land at the unique location of Ħal Ferħ (Għajn Tuffieħa) although it has not yet received a permit from the Planning Authority for the development of 25 residential villas.

According to the Planning Authority, the application is still at the screening process stage, which means that the application is still not considered to be complete and “may not even reach the full application stage”.

Meanwhile, the former tourism complex at Ħal Ferħ has been turned into rubble.

The Shift asked the Planning Authority to explain how it is that demolition works have been going on for months when the permit has not yet been approved for Corinthia’s so-called Oasis project. A spokesman said the work was being done based on a previous permit (for different use) issued for the same area in 2010 and renewed in 2019.

According to permit number PA4906/10, the hotel chain was given the green light to build a timeshare complex – a project the group abandoned years ago.

The area where Corinthia wants to build villas has already been flattened.

Corinthia Group provided the same answer, citing the old timeshare permit to justify the ongoing demolition works.

Through the demolition of the whole complex, turning a prime tourist area into an eyesore, Corinthia has compromised the planning process.

“A serious company would first await the full development permit for their plans and then start work. Instead, they found a loophole which, although legal, forces the Planning Authority’s hands – now, it has no other option but to approve their permit. It seems that the Pisanis (the family that owns Corinthia Group) are no different to other cowboy developers,” industry sources said.

Work on the actual building of the new Oasis project is not supposed to start before a new permit is issued. Yet the area now looks like a construction site, even though Corinthia is saying that only demolishing works and the carting away of rubble are taking place.

Corinthia’s deal with the government on the luxury residential project hit the headlines in September after The Shift reported the controversially low amount of compensation paid by the hotel group to turn former public land into luxury residential villas.

Originally, the Hal Ferh complex, a former British military barracks converted into a tourist complex by Air Malta, was sold by the government to Island Hotels Ltd to be repurposed as a timeshare tourism complex. The deed stipulated that this land was only to be used for tourism purposes.

Yet, soon after Corinthia bought Island Group, formerly owned by the Zahra family, Alfred Pisani (one of the founders of Corinthia Group) changed plans for the area and abandoned the timeshare project.

Alfred Pisani and Joseph Muscat

Alfred Pisani and former prime minister Joseph Muscat

Instead, he entered into discussions with the government for part of the land to be used to build 25 luxury residential villas for public sale, significantly raising the commercial value of the project.

Accepting this deal, the government asked Corinthia to pay compensation of some €10.3 million – considered extremely low at current property market prices, especially considering the unique location of the land in question.

Further investigations by The Shift revealed a catch in the deal, which stipulated that Corinthia were bound to pay only 10% of the €10.3 million.

The rest, over €9 million, is to be paid over 10 years and only once the villas are sold, with Corinthia offloading the payment onto those buying the property and minimising risk to the company.

This means that while Corinthia will be raking in tens of millions of euros, it will only contribute just over €1 million to the public coffers.

                           
                               
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Francis Said
Francis Said
1 day ago

Why should the Corinthia group buy public land and pay for it by installments? Is it possible that the Group cannot raise the required funds to pay for public land at such a ridiculous price?
Also, they must be certain that the planning authority will be issuing the necessary permit. That’s is a certainty.
The public on the other hand if they had to buy a small plot to build their own house, must pay the cost of the land in full.
There are laws for the gods and laws for the peasants (us).
Also if it was earmarked for tourism purposes, how come the change to a residential area? Again the price of the land at much lower than market value.

Last edited 1 day ago by Francis Said
KLAUS
KLAUS
22 hours ago
Reply to  Francis Said

There are no gods.

But there are some false shamans who behave like gods

To be chauffeured over the streets with blue lights and to ‘chase away’ others is mentioned as a simple but annoying example.

ONLY BY LETTING THEM DO THIS, and clearing the way, DO WE ALLOW THEM TO BE THAT WAY AS GODS.

But they are representatives of the people, who have to serve the people and are not allowed to serve themselves and have to behave beyond that.

REMINDER:
They have to give us an account of their deeds and misdeeds.
The people have the power.
That is called democracy.

Gee Mike
Gee Mike
17 hours ago
Reply to  KLAUS

Have you following the news lately?

KLAUS
KLAUS
16 hours ago
Reply to  Gee Mike

Thoroughly. 

While the caste of ‘untouchables’ in India deserves respect, the so-called ‘untouchables’ in Malta have done much to make Malta a laughing stock in the world.

In terms of Malta’s population, there are almost 100 cities in the European Union that have more inhabitants than Malta.

In fact, I can’t think of any city whose people’s representatives behave so blatantly out of line, show such blatant incompetence for the job, and are so blatantly stuck-up and ignorant. 

KLAUS
KLAUS
1 day ago

Dear Shift Team,
Dear Planning Authority,

Apparently, a permit that is several years old can be relied upon. OMG.

FIRST:
Of course, a permit should include a “timely” expiry date. As a rule, this should not be more than 12 months in the future.
SECOND:
Of course, a “preliminary building application” can be made by the planner/owner in order to have a rough legal certainty. (With substantial changes to the plans, as here, the actual approval may be different.
THIRD:
FROM MY POINT OF VIEW, IF THE OWNER INVOKES THIS OLD APPROVAL, THEN EVERYTHING IS TO BE IMPLEMENTED IN THIS WAY AND THE “HOTEL BUILDINGS” ARE INVALID:
BECAUSE WHERE SOMETHING ELSE IS “BUILT”, IT IS THEN SIMPLY NO LONGER POSSIBLE. BACK TO SQUARE ONE.

Once again, it seems to have gone Maltese with a stale taste of corruption.
POOR MALTA.

Best,
Klaus

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
1 day ago

We have our own Maltese oligarchs.

Alfred Tonna
Alfred Tonna
23 hours ago

“Corinthia Group has flattened a parcel of land at the unique location of Ħal Ferħ (Għajn Tuffieħa) although it has not yet received a permit from the Planning Authority for the development of 25 residential villas” A true example of, SHOOT FIRST ASK LATER.

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
19 hours ago

RAMPANT ARROGANCE AND ” I DO WHAT I WANT ” ATTITUDE
EVERYWHERE, THE RESULT OF A CULTURE OF IMPUNITY
SOWN BY SUCCESSIVE PL GOVERNMENTS TO WIN ELECTIONS.

KLAUS
KLAUS
2 hours ago
Reply to  joe tedesco

Corrupt government.
Fake police.
Poor Malta.

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