The Lands Authority, responsible for public land administration, has denied an application to turn part of a public passageway on a government housing estate in Kalkara into part of a private front garden owned by former Labour transport minister Joe Mizzi.
The Shift recently reported how Mizzi, a long-serving Labour MP and a minister since 2013 until he was removed from Cabinet by Prime Minister Robert Abela before the last general elections, submitted a development application to turn a piece of public land in front of his residence into his front garden.
But it appears not everything has gone to plan as sources told The Shift that the Lands Authority refused the former minister’s request after discussing his application.
Sources said that since the land required by Mizzi is used by the rest of the residents living in the same community, the Authority, under the political remit of Minister Silvio Schembri, decided that it should not be given for the use of just one individual.
The sources explained that this decision means a separate application filed at the Planning Authority by the former minister does not have the land owner’s consent (the Lands Authority) and is automatically discarded.
This is not the first time Mizzi has attempted to take public land for his personal use, as he filed a similar application in 2018 when he was still a minister, but this was withdrawn following neighbours’ objections.
In his latest application, presented by architect Chris Cachia, Mizzi admitted that he was not the owner of the land he wanted to develop as this was owned by the government. The land in question also formed part of the common parts enjoyed by all the housing estate residents.
For the second time, the application caused outrage among residents who sent official objections to the Planning and Lands Authorities. Formal objections argued that the applicant should not be given preferential treatment because he is a former Labour minister.
“Are we to expect that all residents with their houses abutting this open space will be given the right to extend their front gardens, or is it going to be done only for one privileged individual,” one of the objections stated.
Mizzi’s architect, Cachia, was also used by the owners of an ODZ two-tumuli farmhouse in Zejtun, who, in 2018, applied for a speedy sanctioning of all the villa’s illegalities.
Days after the green light from the Planning Authority, the property, which has a market value of some €2 million, was acquired by Prime Minister Robert Abela and his wife, Lydia.