St Peter’s Pool in Delimara is promoted as “perfect for sunbathing” and a “well-loved bathing spot”, yet the government’s promotion fails to mention the illegalities and general degradation of the area through a lack of enforcement action by the authorities.
One key aspect that Visit Malta fails to mention is that one of two roads leading to St Peter’s Pool has been taken over by illegal development at the hands of two individuals, Carl and Rita Bonnici, according to information on the Planning Authority’s website.
Although the illegal development was served with an enforcement notice six years ago and the Planning Authority claims it has been removed, The Shift’s investigation shows that it remains in the area.
Bathers seeking to go to St Peter’s Pool through the first of two side roads leading to the swimming area are practically bombarded with incorrectly spelt signs pointing towards an illegal parking space in an agricultural field which costs €3 to use, with visitors being warned that their cars will be towed if they stay later than 8pm. Previous reports show that the car park used to cost €2.
An illegal bar has also been set up in the area (featured photo), without basic amenities like a bathroom.
Questions have been sent to the Planning Authority to explain why the illegal bar and car park continue to operate with impunity despite enforcement notices from six years ago.
This year, the same individual responsible for the illegal bar and car park was served with another enforcement notice which indicates commercial activity has intensified even further.
The recent illegal activity carried out by Carl Bonnici, according to the notice, includes the “placement of a food van, franka and concrete paving, tables and chairs”, the “construction of a stone oven and room roofed with insulated sheets”, and the construction of new walls and a wooden gate.
The history of the entire Delimara area is littered with illegalities of this kind following years of abuse of power by notorious former lands minister Lorry Sant. Large parcels of land were given out to Sant’s thugs in the 1980s, and the situation has only worsened.
The illegal car park and bar near St Peter’s Pool have been reported repeatedly, to no avail. The Shift’s founder, Caroline Muscat, had written a series of articles about the rampant illegalities in the area between 2015 – 2016 for The Times of Malta.
In July 2016, one of Muscat’s articles referred to how the Planning Authority (PA) had served the Bonnicis with an enforcement notice. A look at the Planning Authority’s Map Server shows two such notices were served – EC/00375/16 and EC/00451/16.
The Planning Authority’s website states that both cases have been closed and the illegal development has been removed. Yet they’re still there.
In her series of articles between 2015 – 2016, Muscat highlighted seven sites rife with illegalities, including the illegal car park and bar at St Peter’s Pool. A site visit by The Shift six years later shows that the sites remain the same, with some adding new features.
These sites include a few rooms that have been converted into houses near il-Kalanka tal-Gidien, a wader trapping site near Kalanka, a yard situated between Kalanka and St Peter’s Pool, the illegal car park and bar, and two developments that became villas just up the road from the illegal bar.
The Shift’s research shows that the houses near Kalanka tal-Gidien have two active enforcement notices pending since 2005.
The former Kalanka hotel, despite having permits to redevelop into a boutique hotel, remains abandoned. While the permit to redevelop was issued in 2016, no major changes to the site have been observed. Two years ago, the owner filed another application which is currently undergoing screening – the new application refers to a change in the layout and a reduction in the height of the already approved plans for the hotel.
Right around the corner from Kalanka hotel, small rooms dot the coastline, with some of them even having wide outdoor patios including space for barbecues and gatherings on the land. One room, in particular, was plonked right in the middle of a pathway, forcing whoever was walking to go around it.
The yard situated between Kalanka and St Peter’s Pool, which is zealously guarded by its “owner” and several dogs, not only remains in place but was also actually sanctioned by the PA. In 2016, journalists who attempted to take photographs of the yard were chased off by the owner. When The Shift visited the site on Tuesday morning, the owner of the site was present but did not speak to journalists.
The pathway blocked by the yard leads to salt pans along the coastline – according to the sanctioning application mentioned above, the yard owner, Emanuel Camilleri, also built a salt store in the area.
As for the two developments-turned-villas near St Peter’s Pool, a sanctioning application filed in 2020 was refused by the Planning Authority, with the villas still very much in place and no real changes made since then.
Enforcement notices gather dust
A comprehensive analysis by The Shift shows that 23 enforcement notices were filed in the last ten years in Delimara alone. Much of the illegal activity consisted of the construction of rooms and/or housing units, the construction of bird hides for hunting and trapping activities, the erection of fences and walls, and even the construction of pools in the area.
Out of those 23 enforcement notices, six remain active, meaning that the case is not closed and that no significant changes have occurred since the notice was filed. Five enforcement notices were considered closed cases but listed pending fines from those responsible for breaching planning laws. Ten cases were considered fully closed, while two others were sanctioned or are currently in the process of being sanctioned by the authorities.
Over 20 enforcement notices have been filed in the last decade, and while the active cases have been whittled down to just six, not much has actually changed.