The Planning Authority should not grant permission for an undisturbed plot of ODZ land in Bahrija to be turned into two luxury villas with pools, according to the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), who also described the project as a “non-starter”.
Development application PA04672/23 was presented to the Planning Authority earlier this year by Infinite Fusion Properties, a company owned by Liam Ferrigi, the same businessman tasked by Infrastructure Malta to upgrade many of Malta’s road tunnels.
Hundreds of residents, NGOs and other interested parties have called on the Planning Authority to reject the application, which is still under consideration. The ERA and the superintendence have now endorsed their objections.
The superintendence issued a strongly worded statement, noting the area is of archaeological importance and includes bronze age car ruts that run through the plot earmarked for development.
“The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH) has assessed the proposal and notes with grave concern that it is completely unacceptable, as it constitutes an irreversible detrimental effect on the cultural heritage and the pristine rural, natural, and cultural landscape. In view of this, the proposal is deemed unjustifiable in all aspects and therefore a non-starter.”
ERA said the project would encroach on a protected Natura 2000 site, resulting in the degradation and direct loss of protected habitat if it went ahead.
“This proposal is considered objectionable from an environmental point of view,” the agency added.
The architect for the Bahrija plot is Albert Spiteri, who also works full-time as an architect at government agency Infrastructure Malta.
The Shift recently revealed that Spiteri was the lead architect on the tunnel upgrading project conducted by Bifra JV, a consortium which included Ferriggi as one of its shareholders.
The tunnel project, originally worth €12.5 million, ended up costing taxpayers some €17 million through delays and variations, approved by Infrastructure Malta architects, including Spiteri.
But just months after completion, the tunnels started showing signs of decay, including plaster peeling off the walls, whitewashed walls turning black, and rainwater seeping through.
Instead of issuing a new tender for repairs to be carried out in the tunnels, Infinite Fusion Services Ltd, owned by Ferriggi, a business associate of Labour pollster Vince Marmara, was given a direct order to carry out the work “following accidental damages by third parties”.
The new direct order is worth €350,000.
Spiteri, having overseen Ferriggi’s work on the tunnels in his role as a government architect, now in a state of disrepair and being fixed by Ferriggi, is now working privately for the same businessman on the private and controversial Bahrija villa project.
As for the conflict of interest between Spiteri and Ferriggi, no measures have been taken by Infrastructure Malta – its CEO Ivan Falzon has refused to answer questions.
Several reminders set to Falzon to follow up on the same questions were ignored.
The Shift also contacted Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia for comment and clarification, but no response was forthcoming.
In August, The Shift revealed that Infrastructure Malta had implemented a new policy, asking all employees, including architects, to declare their perceived or actual conflicts of interest.
It is unknown whether Spiteri declared his private work for Ferriggi and whether any action was taken.