The Planning Authority will be strictly monitoring the new hotel development currently being built by the Decesare family, owners of the Eden Leisure Group, in Paceville, and will not allow them to lease out any office space at the new hotel, the Planning Authority told The Shift.
Reacting to questions on the Eden Leisure Group’s current marketing efforts to lease office space, recently reported by The Shift, the Planning Authority said this would not be allowed.
A spokesperson for the Authority said the two floors of office space forming part of the new hotel complex were allowed on the condition they would be used only for the group’s own purposes.
“The Authority can confirm that the tripartite public deed was signed on 10 August 2022” and disallows the use of the hotel’s office component for commercial purposes. The deed has been deposited in the Notarial Archives.
In the case of a breach of conditions, the Malta Tourism Authority and the PA can impose hefty fines and take further action against the building’s owners.
While recognising that the Eden Leisure Group has indeed started marketing office space on the site where the hotel is being developed, the Planning Authority said that, so far, it does not have any information that the public deed is being breached.
According to the Planning Authority, apart from the hotel building, the Decesares were also granted permission to build separate office space on the site of the former bowling alley adjacent to the hotel, where the height limitation adjustment policy had not been applied.
The spokesman added that it is only in this area where office space, to be operated independently from the hotel, can be leased out.
On its part, the Eden Leisure Group has refused to reply to questions from The Shift.
Industry sources told The Shift that the Planning Authority knows policing this type of permit will be “very difficult, to say the least”.
The Shift has revealed how despite the strict rules governing hotel developments, which allow them extra storeys strictly for tourism use, the Planning Authority departed from its own rules and allowed the well-connected family to add additional storeys by using part of the building as office space.
Both the Planning Authority and the Malta Tourism Authority had initially objected fiercely to the proposal, having declared it against policy.
Yet things suddenly changed as politically-appointed MTA chairman Gavin Gulia issued the Decesares an exception, as long as the office space in question would only be used to accommodate the group’s employees.
This was accepted by the Planning Authority, and a permit was issued.
At the time of the MTA’s change of heart, Kevin Decesare, one of the main shareholders of the Eden Leisure Group, was also a government-appointed member of the MTA board. He was re-appointed by Prime Minister Robert Abela following the last general elections in March.
The MTA has refused to explain what led it to reverse its objection.