The ongoing exercise being led by Lands Minister Silvio Schembri to declassify some 13,000 square metres of public land on Qawra’s foreshore from the Public Domain Act is aimed at regularising “the illegal occupation of public land” by Anġlu Xuereb and his hotels, Lands Authority CEO Robert Vella has admitted to a parliamentary committee.
Vella, who was called before parliament’s environment committee to explain the ongoing exercise, said that the two lidos built by construction magnate Anglu Xuereb in the 1980s have been occupying public land without a title.
He explained that to straighten out the illegality, the government plans to give Xuereb an official title on the public land through a temporary emphyteutic concession for the next 65 years.
However, he admitted that this would have to be done through a new parliamentary resolution that the lands minister is already discussing with Xuereb behind closed doors.
“This,” Vella told the committee’s MPs, “can only be done if we declassify the public land currently illegally occupied by the Suncrest and Sunny Coast from the law, as otherwise, we would not be able to give the land for commercial use. That is the scope of this exercise.”
Vella explained that the Lands Authority has been in court with Xuereb since 1991 over the public land in question. The case has still not been concluded over 30 years later.
Vella said the government is now willing to reach an out-of-court settlement with Xuereb’s AX Group through which the case would be dropped. The agreement would see the land remaining in AX Group’s care and a fine imposed for its illegal occupation over the years.
It is so far not known what Minister Silvio Schembri and Xuereb have agreed to in terms of the fine for the 40-year occupation of public land, or the concession fees that will be payable for the next 65 years.
Last February, just before the general elections, the Planning Authority approved two development applications filed by the AX Group to demolish the two lidos and to excavate and redevelop the entire site.
According to the Authority’s Oliver Magro, there is still another pending application. The Lands Authority, despite being in court with Xuereb, approved the illegally occupied land to be redeveloped.
While the PA held a public consultation on the declassification of the land in question last December, the ensuing report is still being kept under lock and key.
The PA and the lands minister have both turned down Freedom of Information requests for the report.
Asked for a copy now that the issue has reached parliamentary stage, a spokesman for the House informed The Shift that the request was being refused because the Environment Committee has not yet made the document public.
When the declassification consultation was launched last December, the AX Group’s Denise Xuereb insisted with The Shift that “the re-development of the lidos was to take place on the same current footprint of the existing lidos and public access to the foreshore was to be maintained.”
She did not mention the company had been occupying the land illegally. AX Group plans to demolish the Sunny Coast and Suncrest lidos in Qawra to build a 200-space car park and other commercial activities, including retail space and restaurants.
Lidos seem to be the new money maker for hoteliers.
Whilst the general public swim in their baths!!!
Xejn hlief HNIEZER kollha xaham
Min jithanzer l aktar.
Viva l Labour Sur Ang,
Art tal pubbliku nsterqet biex tinghata lilek u min irid jghum irid ihallsek.
if you check the other properties you will find that none have been legally taken, that’s how you become the construction tycoon
La qed jissemma Anġlu ieħor, nixtieq inkun naf eżattament x’ġara f’dak il-lejl meta l-lukandiera bintu sabet lil żewġha mgħerreq fid-demm ma’ raġel ieħor mejjet fis-sodda matrimonjali. Veru li l-ewwel telefonata kienet lill-Anġlu kustudju u mhux lill-pulizija? Veru li l-kustodju wasal ferm qabel il-pulizija u aċċessa x-xena tad-delitt?
Perhaps Silvio will get another office to work out of?
Xuereb is not the only land thief, Polidano has been usurping public land for decades. He’s got away with it, why not Xuereb too?
Certifikat ta korrott imissu jdendel fl-officju.
Isthi jekk taf.
Everything is possible under the Maltese sun.
Now how about investigating the Zammit Tabonas and all they managed to scrounge off government, including two lidos and a land deal meant for a hotel which is now turned to an apartment building. Obscenity that can only be sanctioned by Labour cronies.
Well it’s not bloody hard is it? If it’s illegal take them down, and return the land to its original state at the owners expense, then fine the owners and their family the cost of the use of land, plus interest, for the last 40 years and send a strong message that you can’t do things illegally.