Lands Minister can’t explain why public green lung is being turned into flats

Lands Minister Silvio Schembri has blamed past administrations for the land’s developable status, but has now admitted this is the first time in 30 years it is being offered up for development.


Lands Minister Silvio Schembri is not explaining why he is presiding over a move to sell a large green lung of public land in Mellieha Heights for mega contractors to turn it into more apartment blocks.

Questioning a highly dubious tender issued recently by the Lands Authority – currently up for adjudication despite the objections of hundreds of the area’s residents who have been enjoying the open green space for decades – Mellieha MP Robert Cutajar asked Schembri to confirm that this was the first time in the last 30 years that this particular open space has been offered for speculation.

While Schembri at first refused to reply, stating that he was seeking information on the matter, he has now admitted that this was the first such tender in 30 years.

Schembri, who is insisting that the land in question has been part of development schemes since the 1990s, acknowledged the land in question has been left untouched for decades and it is only now that the 4,000 square metre plot is being offered for sale for development.

The Shift has reported how the land in question was mysteriously issued for speculation by the Lands Authority a few weeks ago and earmarked for specific contractors who had acquired a small portion of land sandwiched in the middle of the large area of public property.

To facilitate the acquisition by the contractors who are known for converting swathes of land into residential blocks, the Lands Authority somehow decided the owners of abutting private land are to be given the right of first refusal on the rest of the surrounding, which is more than three times the size of the plot they acquired only a few years ago.

Industry sources informed The Shift they smelled a rat as soon as the tender was issued as the indications were that the public land was to be sold for peanuts to predetermined contractors.

The Shift also revealed that the owners of the small portion of private land, on which the Lands Authority is now basing the determining right of first refusal clause, had been acquired by T & S Property Holdings Ltd, a company directed by contractors Paul Attard, a shareholder in developers GAP Developments and Paul Vella, known as tal-Ballut from Mgarr, who is a director of Ballut Blocks.

Who is behind the deal?

T&S Property Holdings Ltd was formed in July 2021 and GAP’s Paul Attard. and Attard and Paul Vella comprise its board of directors.

The company is owned by TRD Holdings Ltd – fully owned by Paul Attard and which holds 80% of the shares – while the rest 20% is held by Swaey Bros Ltd, also of Mgarr.

Swaey was originally owned by brothers Paul and Anthony Vella but in 2018 they divested their shareholdings and handed them down to their children while retaining the company’s directorship.

Swaey Bros Ltd is now officially owned by Quinton Vella and Sharon Caruana Vella (25% each) and Maria Vella, Reuben Vella and Valerie Vella who own the remaining half of the company.

GAP’s Paul Attard is known to be close to Lands Minister Silvio Schembri. Prime Minister Robert Abela has so far not commented on various media reports indicating a possible underhand deal for the potentially highly profitable parcel of public land.

The issue of such a large green lung being sold for speculation by the Lands Authority also contradicts the government’s plans to develop more green spaces in Maltese towns and villages – through its new €700 million Project Green – to counteract the wanton development and construction that has characterised the islands over recent years.


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26 days ago

The answer to the minister is ” Because money talks” and Portelli speaks the language.

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