Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.
The Planning Authority is this week expected to give the go-ahead to Prime Minister Robert Abela and his wife Lydia to convert their Xewkija farmhouse into an eight-bedroomed guesthouse.
Plans submitted late last year through a new development application have been favourably endorsed by the planning directorate, with the recommendation that the Abela’s are given the green light for their new business venture.
The final decision is expected to be rubber-stamped by the Planning Authority later this week, and the Malta Tourism Authority has also already issued its acceptance certificate for the property.
The latest development application, officially submitted by Lydia Abela, includes a much larger plot than initially acquired by the couple in 2010.
Through two separate deeds, signed in 2022 and 2023, the Abelas acquired an additional 1,500 square metres of land at the back of their farmhouse, increasing their development’s footprint to some 2,000 square metres in Xewkija’s Urban Conservation Area.
According to the official deeds obtained by The Shift, the Abelas spent €315,000 on the additional land, over and above the €268,000 they paid a German couple in 2010 for the farmhouse.
The prime minister declares a prime minister’s salary (€65,000) as his family’s only source of income.
Long coming project
Initially, Robert and Lydia Abela had intended to use the farmhouse as their holiday residence in Gozo.
Despite obtaining a development permit in 2012 to build a pool, they never got around to doing it and had to apply for a permit renewal in 2017 after its five-year validity elapsed.
After obtaining a government grant through the Irrestawra Darek Scheme – reserved for residences, a permit was issued in 2021 to carry out the work with public money.
However, soon after, through architect Joe Cassar – the same involved in building Mater Dei, which, according to the government, had defective concrete – the Abelas applied for an extension to their Gozo residence to turn it into a seven-bedroomed residence.
The application was withdrawn soon after The Shift revealed that the Abelas were using a residential application for a commercial development.
Application expenses related to commercial developments are normally higher.
In the summer of 2023, Lydia Abela finally filed the most recent application to turn the farmhouse into a guesthouse with eight double bedrooms, including a reception and lounge area, a breakfast room, a basement with a gym and wine cellar, a large outdoor pool and surrounding landscaped gardens.
The plan also involves a significant extension to the building on the first floor.
According to the case officer report, all the prime minister’s plans are acceptable, and he can continue his development.
Although the hotel has a capacity of 16 guests plus staff, the officer said that there was no need to create any additional parking spaces or ask them to pay additional fees.
“The parking requirements for this proposal are being taken at a residential scale where no additional on-site parking is being requested,” the officer concluded.