Portelli’s pools: Five NGOs and local council in appeal against ODZ Marsalforn Valley development

‘Planning Commission chair bent over backwards to please Portelli’


A crowdfunding campaign has managed, in a matter of just a few days, to collect the funds required to institute legal actions against a “scandalous development permit” granted to Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli for yet another Portelli pool in the Marsalforn Valley.

Thanks to those efforts, five non-governmental organisations – Moviment Graffitti, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Għawdix, Wirt Għawdex, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) – and the Xagħra Local Council have now filed an appeal before the Planning Tribunal (EPRT).

Moviment Graffitti did not mince its words when it came to the way in which the permit had been approved, explaining, “In a shameful spectacle of servility to big business, the Planning Commission Chairperson, Martin Camilleri, bent over backward to please Portelli, green-lighting the application notwithstanding the case officer’s recommendation for refusal.”

The NGOs and Council point out how, in addition to being in an Outside Development Zone (ODZ), the proposed pool in question is literally inside a valley and forms part of the massive apartment block project at the edge of the same valley.

They warn how the approval of yet another swimming pool in a sensitive area sets a dangerous precedent for subsequent approvals of similar projects, “opening the floodgates to the destruction of our valleys and facilitating the continued rapid destruction of Gozo”.

Camilleri’s approval of the project, they claim, was in clear breach of several laws and planning policies.

Graffitti warned, “In the face of this assault on our environment and quality of life, we are determined to continue fighting against the defacing of Gozo and Malta at the hands of developers like Joseph Portelli and rotten entities like the Planning Authority.”

The organisations’ appeal outlines the numerous regulations that categorically prohibit the approved ODZ development.

These include the Gozo Local Plan provision, which disallows development on the ridge edge; the site being within the 50-meter buffer zone from an Urban Conservation Area (UCA); and the formalisation and parcelling of ODZ land, among others.

Moreover, the group of objectors notes how the Planning Commission asserted the site was already committed, when it was not, “and also conducted itself in an irregular manner throughout the proceedings when it failed to indicate its intention to approve or refuse the application during the first hearing, instead instructing the developer to carry out insignificant changes which were then used as a pretext for approval”.

With the success of this latest crowdfunding effort, Graffitti said on Saturday, and the repeated success of other crowdfunding campaigns, “the people of Malta and Gozo are outraged at the destruction of our urban and natural environment for the benefit of the wealthy few”.

Another crowdfunding campaign held earlier this year led to an appeal being filed by Moviment Graffitti against the third application connected to Portelli’s monstrous development in Sannat.


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8 months ago

Golden vote holders only club!

Catherine Spiteri
Catherine Spiteri
8 months ago

Oh no not Marsalforn Valley, this is a sacrilege.

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