The Malta Tourism Authority and Building and Construction Authority scheme stopping excavation and construction during the summer months in “tourist zones” was altered this year to allow the controversial development at the former Mistra Village hotel site in Xemxija to continue throughout the summer.
An analysis of the MTA lists of the last three years of streets in which no construction work may be done throughout the summer period shows that streets abutting the site had specific exemptions included, while others were removed from the list entirely, allowing for the development to continue.
The permit for the project by Charles Camilleri of Gemxija Crown Ltd for a 12-storey residential and commercial complex with over 700 apartments, was revoked by the Chief Justice in the Court of Appeals in May.
Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti sent the case back to the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal to consider whether the project is still compatible with current planning laws and policies.
Meanwhile, the work on the site is ongoing, with residents complaining about noise and dust lasting until the evening on summer nights.
Comparing the lists of streets on which construction is paused for the summer period on a map clearly shows exemptions were explicitly included to allow for the Mistra Village development.
Telgħet ix-Xemxija, Trejqet il-Fuħħar and Triq Katerina Vitale were all conspicuously missing from the 2023 list despite being included in 2021 and 2022.
For this year, Triq il-Mistra includes an exemption between Telgħa ta’ Selmun up to Triq ix-Xemxija, while construction on Triq Raddet ir-Roti is only banned up to Trejqet Għar Berbaħ.
The ‘summer break’ scheme was introduced by the Malta Tourism Authority in 2021 alongside a substantial advertising campaign to quell public outcry against overdevelopment and mitigate the industry’s negative impacts in tourist areas.
Last week, The Shift reported how noise pollution and fine dust from works on the project have been affecting people living in neighbouring streets, with one resident telling The Shift works were ongoing “Monday to Saturday, from 7 am to 6 pm”.
The EPRT accepted a site visit requested by the residents in July, but the commitment has not been fulfilled.
Lawyer Claire Bonello, representing the residents in their appeal against the development, told The Shift that the developers have expedited works on the site before the visit to prove the commitment called for by the courts, placing residents in “a fight against time”.