A public playing field in Victoria, Gozo in an area known as Taċ-Ċawla, is set to be taken up by a four-storey apartment block built by developer Joseph Portelli on behalf of the Ministry for Gozo, The Shift can report.
The application, PA/05522/18, was approved in June 2019 and consists of a four-storey apartment block planned for additional social housing right in the middle one of the only remaining public open spaces in the built-up housing area.
PRA Construction Ltd., run by Gozo rogue developer Joseph Portelli won the tender (CT/2319/2021) for the project’s construction, valued at €1 million. The same area was renovated in August 2021 by the Victoria Local Council, with new outdoor gym equipment being installed under the Outdoor Gym Assistance Scheme for Gozitan Local Councils.
Despite public objection to the project, the equipment has since been dismantled with boundary walls erected around the site making way for the apartment block, rendering that investment null.
While the new block plan for the area makes provisions for smaller, disjointed public areas, the existing open space will be wholly disrupted as the housing block will be situated at its centre.
The project was applied for in 2018 by Vicky Xuereb on behalf of the Gozo Ministry under the current auspices of Minister Clint Camilleri. Shawn Micallef, also from the ministry, is serving as its architect with the housing block built by PRA Construction Ltd., owned by Gozitan mega-developer Joseph Portelli.
When reviewing plans for the project, the Superintendence for Public Heritage noted that the development exceeded the Height Limitations established by the Gozo & Comino Local Plan. It was also pointed out that the development lies just 46 metres from areas of archaeological sensitivity.
The project was initially announced by then-Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana in February 2019, who at the time had argued for the necessity of the project in a conference addressing homelessness, despite that “there are no people who are considered homeless in Gozo” a statement which raises questions as to the necessity of the project.
Victoria Local Council member Michel Buttigieg has expressed the council’s support for the project, arguing that the existing playing field would only be modernized and renovated. Opposition MP Alex Borg has opposed the project, characterising the project as a “theft of open space, creating a lack of accessibility to local residents”.
Portelli’s close ties to the government have landed the developer a slew of benefits including public contracts, reduced rent rates on public land and lenient decisions from the Planning Authority.
One of Portelli’s top architects, architect Maria Schembri Grima also served as Building and Construction Authority chair until her resignation following public outcry over the dangerous demolition of the former GO exchange building where she was serving as architect.
Xi hmieg! Tawh bicca art ohra pubblika skuza li ser tintuza ghal skop ta housing! X misthija!., u kullhadd rieqed ma jaghmel xejn!!
Bhal art enormi li tawh fix-Xewkija art pubblika li diga telghat f binja enormi!! U hadd ma jaghmel xejn!!
Dawn halfu li kull rokna li fadal li taghtina nifs jeqirdugha. X jimpurtahom mil ambjent,arkeologija jew minnek haddiem. Laqwa li jkomplu jeqirdu u jithanzru erba min nies tal klikka mejtin u affamati bil guh.
Since when Portelli was in Social Housing? Unless Passport Selling has become a Social Assistance Department.
Tal misthija , jaghmel li irrid
Are these the same people who are asking Local Councils to identify areas to be included in the Green Project?
Joseph Portelli will not be happy until he has destroyed every open space in Malta