Planning Authority bows to Musumeci and clears major illegalities at Aria club

The Planning Authority has decided to sanction major illegalities spanning 13 years at the Aria club complex in Iklin, accepting new plans submitted by government consultant and architect Robert Musumeci on behalf of his clients Dominic Micallef and Raymond Desira.

During a short hearing, all three government-appointed members of the Planning Commission – chairman Martin Camilleri and members Anthony Borg and Frank Ivan Caruana Catania – turned the recommended refusal by the planning directorate into an approval.

According to the new permit, the owners of the ‘Aria’ complex, known in the past as ‘Vibes’ and ‘Liquid’, will be allowed to retain most of the illegal structures built.

Their only consequence is a payment of €34,000 for the whole 13 years in which they were still allowed to use the complex for commercial purposes despite an enforcement notice issued in 2009, never enforced by the Planning Authority, while the events at the club drew millions over the years.

Current planning laws, enacted in 2012, impose a possible daily fine of €50 a day in case of illegalities following the issue of an enforcement notice. However, the maximum is capped at €50,000 – it’s worth the profits for people like Micallef and Desira to do as they please and then apply to sanction the illegalities.

The law does not allow for the closure of the premises when illegalities are in place, as is the case in other countries. This gives abusers the upper hand.

The penalties have not changed since 2012.  The Labour administration has never seen the need for revision, despite increasing illegalities sprouting across the country.

The Shift News reported on the case and how, in 2021, following years of trying to sanction Aria’s illegalities without success, Dominic Micallef – the real owner of the complex even though he used Raymond Desira as an applicant – dumped his long-standing architect Kenneth Camilleri and instead employed the services of Robert Musumeci.

The latter is a government consultant who was tasked with tweaking the planning rules applied in such a case.

Shortly after Musumeci took the brief, a new application was filed, and all the previous departments objecting to the permit somehow changed their minds and gave their go-ahead.

The last hurdle was the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CPRD), which was still mounting its objections until last July.

Yet after Musumeci asked the Planning Authority for a short suspension of the application, Frank Muscat sent a letter on behalf of the CPRD dropping all reservations.

This cleared the way for Musumeci to obtain the permit for his clients.

Musumeci, an architect and former PN mayor who switched to Labour and then became a government consultant to the government, is widely known as the go-to person for difficult permits. While this serves his personal interest, he is equally despised by both political factions.

Micallef, the owner of Aria club, is involved in a number of other business ventures facing problems.

His permit to turn his family’s once popular Tattingers disco on Saqqaja Hill in Rabat into a hotel was revoked a few weeks ago.

Another of his projects to turn the Valletta Waterpolo pitch into a lido has been abandoned for months as Micallef failed to pay his contractors.

Micallef is also the new owner of various government-owned boathouses turned lidos in Armier, where he intends to develop them into high-end summer party venues.

Illum reports that no one knows how the Lands Authority leased all these properties to Micallef and who is the person responsible.

Lands Authority Minister Silvio Schembri is refusing to explain.

                           
                           
                               
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Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
2 months ago

The local saying goes “Minghajr qaddisin ma tidholx il-Genna” How true!

Last edited 2 months ago by Joseph Tabone Adami
Fred the Red
Fred the Red
2 months ago

Who was the CRPD Perit who gave the go-ahead? Maybe one should ask him on what grounds it was issued.

Greed
Greed
2 months ago

All that is wrong with Malta. No surprise here as we all knew it was a foregone conclusion yet the sheep see no wrong in it.

makjavel
makjavel
2 months ago

This seems to have become like the Transport Malta Licences Racked Message.
“If he fails you have to explain to the minister, type of blackmail”.
If Musumeci is not accommodating the Minister’s friends off with his head, and this obviously percolates down the MEPA permits ladder. Who has the guillotine’s chord in his hand? Abela?

Anthony Cassar
Anthony Cassar
2 months ago

All Maltese are idiots to stay silent whilst their country is being raped by egocentric and egoistic individuals like Musumeci

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
2 months ago

A law for the Gods and another one for the lesser mortals.
Musumeci, the architect/lawyer is, for this government, for some unknown but logically, suspicious reason, a super God and seems to qualify as a hardened rent seeker.

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
2 months ago

The PA is rotten as it is the BCA and the Minister in charge is spineless and useless. Fi kliem fqir, Ministeru tal-pudini.

KLAUS
KLAUS
2 months ago

Once again, a bright green light for breaking the law:

If the so-called penalty is less or even easier than the legal way, that’s door and gate open for all ‘oddities’, ‘favors’ and whatever.

Exemplary this is used by the big construction magnates:
Create facts and laugh at the small ‘fines’ (if they are paid at all). 

It only works with REAL penalties. Penalties , which are much much higher than the profit. And must also be paid.
This would be a game changer.

Martin
Martin
2 months ago

Mafia or freemasonry?

Albert Mamo
Albert Mamo
2 months ago

WELL GUESS WHAT. THE MINISTER SILVIO SCHEMBRI DOESN’T WANT TO ANSWER QUESTIONS INVOLVING THIS CORRUPTION…SO WHATS NEW???🤮🤑👎

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