Prime Minister Robert Abela and his wife Lydia have had a change of mind for their Xewkija, Gozo property and have now applied to convert the vernacular farmhouse into a fully-fledged guest house.
The latest change of plans follows The Shift’s report last March in which initial plans submitted by Lydia Abela listed a ‘residential development’ that included seven bedrooms – all with en suite bathrooms.
Doubts were cast on the real intentions behind the development and suspicions were raised that a boutique hotel was being developed under the pretext of a residence – to avoid paying higher commercial application fees while also keeping the development low profile.
It now results that soon after The Shift’s first reports, new plans submitted by veteran architect Joe Cassar on behalf of Robert and Lydia Abela were marked as ‘Xewkija Guest House’ instead of the earlier ‘Residential Development’ nomenclature.
The Prime Minister has now effectively declared his intention to become a guest house operator while operating the country at the same time.
The new development application, which is still under consideration by the Planning Authority, includes significant structural changes to the farmhouse that are expected to cost hundreds of thousands of euros.
The Shift is also informed that the Abelas are eyeing the acquisition of fields behind the Xewkija farmhouse to further extend the property but negotiations with the landowners have so far proven difficult.
In addition to the excavation of an underground basement for a gym, spa, indoor pool and wine cellar, the private development being proposed by the Prime Minister also includes an extension at the back overlooking a landscaped garden and additional rooms on the first floor to extend the 560 square metre plot into a seven-bedroom guest house.
This is the second large private development the Prime Minister and his family are financing.
The Planning Authority approved the Abelas’ plans to raze a villa on a two-tumolo Outside Development Zone site in Zejtun and rebuild it from scratch with a large pool and extensive gardens.
No construction has taken place on the site so far.
According to his latest declaration of assets, Robert and Lydia Abela own three properties.
In addition to their matrimonial home in Marsascala, a seafront penthouse, they also declared their Xewkija farmhouse, now to be converted into a business venture and the Zejtun property, which was acquired under dubious circumstances in 2017. The sum declared by the Abelas was €600,000 while the property’s market value is estimated at over €2 million.