Portelli sold off Dingli apartments months before Planning Authority application

A newly proposed five-storey apartment block in Dingli was already being sold by developer Joseph Portelli months before its plans were even submitted to the Planning Authority for approval.

The proposed apartments could only be built thanks to Infrastructure Malta’s controversial construction of a new road in 2021, which saw the uprooting of mature trees and the destruction of arable land close to a historic Medieval chapel.

Protestors led by NGO Moviment Graffitti, who at the time voiced fears the road was being constructed to allow for further residential development of the area, have been proven correct.

The Shift first reported Portelli’s plans for the area in August 2023 after visiting property agents posing as potential buyers to learn more about projects being sold off before Planning Authority approval.

Plans of the apartment block being sold were obtained by The Shift, dated July 2023, meaning it was being sold three months before the project was submitted to the Planning Authority in October.

The proposal (PA/1437/24) was made available to the public this week.

In the new PA application, Portelli’s name is conspicuously absent, and the applicant is listed as Angelica Stafrace, also listed as the owner of the entire site.

The project’s stated architect, John Demicoli, similarly does not match the plans obtained by The Shift last year, which list the architects’ initials as ‘B.B’ and ‘B.F’.

Nevertheless, The Shift’s analysis of the newly proposed plans submitted to the Planning Authority shows that they are the same as those used by Portelli’s agents in August 2023.

How the project was being sold

Plans obtained by The Shift of the property being sold in August 2023 match those submitted months later for PA approval.

The prospective apartment block has seven residential units sold on plan for between €200,000 and €450,000 as of last August. The five-storey block also has plans for three one-car garages, one two-car garage, a small retail shop, and a rooftop pool.

At the time, units in the project was being sold as an investment opportunity for prospective buyers through Excel Investments Ltd., with agents suggesting it could later be ‘flipped’ for a profit.

Advertising material for the project, named ‘Dharma’, claims it is scheduled to be complete in shell form by December 2024 and finished in July 2025, with contracts of airspace 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.

Portelli and J. Portelli Projects CEO Claire Gauci Borda did not respond to The Shift’s questions on how they can sell units without any planning permits or whether they had received assurance from the Planning Authority that the project would be approved.

Project thanks to controversial road

Activists from Moviment Graffitti during the stand-off when roadworks started in March 2021.

The road, 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 Shift reported in 2022 how, less than a year after its construction, the new road paved the way for new development applications, such as the apartment block in question.

The project is far from the first of Portelli’s developments marketed and sold before planning permits were approved or even submitted to the Planning Authority.

The Shift has previously reported similar situations for plots in Qrendi, apartments near the Sannat cliffs in Gozo, and the former Jerma Hotel site.


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J. Bianchi
J. Bianchi
1 month ago

Ever heard the term ‘subject to permit’? It is present in numerous contracts or promise of sale. So it is normal practice and legal.
My concern is more the sequel of events between the construction of the road and the development.

Marianna Galea Xuereb
1 month ago
Reply to  J. Bianchi

What I can never understand is why people keep accepting to buy on plan, when so many sellers have cheated buyers during these past 22 years, as I personally know to my own cost.

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
1 month ago

Any wonder? See the man and you’ll know the answer.

By the way, is the ‘historic medieval chapel’ dedicated to St John the Evangelist, by any chance?

Judy S
Judy S
1 month ago

Why do I always have a gut feeling that some big head is either a partner or hiding behind someone elses name?.

Josette Portelli
Josette Portelli
1 month ago

I’m totally disgusted and fed up with all the rubbish that is going on. How do people still side with these individuals who keep on ruining our archipelago and with those who consider themselves “untouchables” who continue to break the law and do what they like in broad daylight!!

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