Residential units at a four-storey Dingli apartment block, planned by Joseph Portelli’s property development company J. Portelli Projects, overlooking a newly built road adjacent to an Outside Development Zone area, are being sold on plan with no Planning Authority permits having been submitted, let alone approved.
The apartment block is only possible thanks to a new road, Triq il-Kappella Medjevali, that passes through ODZ land. The infamous road was subject to a three-week-long protest by NGOs and almost 200 residents back in March 2021.
The Shift has obtained plans of the prospective apartment block, with the seven residential units being sold on plan for between €200,000 and €450,000. The four-storey block also has plans for three one-car garages, one two-car garage, a small retail shop, and a rooftop pool.
Advertising material for the project, named ‘Dharma’, claims it is scheduled to be built in shell form by December 2024 and finished in July 2025, with contracts of airspaces to be signed from April 2024. The project is a collaboration between J. Portelli Projects and its frequent collaborators Agius Projects Ltd and DTX Projects.
A look at the Planning Authority’s map server confirms that no development approval has even been sought by J. Portelli Projects for the development, with the project being sold as an investment opportunity for prospective buyers.
Portelli and J. Portelli Projects CEO Claire Gauci Borda did not answer questions raised by The Shift about how they are able to sell units without any planning permits in place, whether they are in talks with the Planning Authority and whether they have received some form of assurance that the project will be approved.
Triq Il-Kappella Medjevali was built in 2021 despite protests that lasted weeks involving activists led by Moviment Graffitti sitting in and camping on the still unmarred land. The road’s construction involved the uprooting of several mature trees, with objectors noting the possibility of damage being caused to the nearby Medieval chapel that the road was ironically named after.
At the time, Infrastructure Malta argued that no planning permit was required for the road given that it was schemed in the 2006 Local Plan. Activists from Moviment Graffitti, however, argued that the road went beyond the bounds defined in the Local Plan and edged into ODZ territory.
The Shift reported last year how less than a year after its construction, the new road has allowed for new development applications, such as for the apartment block in question, and objectors and activists have been proved right.
Only last week The Shift reported how residential units from Portelli’s proposed development of the former Jerma Hotel site in Marsascala continue to be sold on plan even though the project has not yet been approved by the Planning Authority.
The Dingli and Jerma projects are far from the first time one of Portelli’s developments was marketed and sold before planning permits were approved or even submitted to the Planning Authority.