Court revokes permit for another complex built, this time in Birzebbuga

The Court of Appeals has declared the development of a large residential complex in Birżebbuġa illegal, following an appeal process during which the block was partially built and sold.

The Planning Authority’s initial decision to allow the development was revoked by the courts in sentences issued last month. The complex was built in an area known as Girghien or ‘Tal-Papa”.

It was approved through piecemeal applications by developers Anton Camilleri, known as ‘Tal-Franċiż’, Paul Attard of GAP Developments and their associates.

The development raised concerns since separate applications were filed for different parts of the development to sidestep planning policies. It also blocked access to historical rock-cut chambers and WWII shelters.

ADPD leader Sandra Gauci reported the court rulings on social media earlier last month. The sentences found that the Planning Authority had wrongly interpreted the area’s development brief.

The court overturned the decisions of the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT), chaired by an employee seconded by the Planning Authority. The tribunal dismissed the objectors’ appeals and confirmed the Authority’s original approval.

Both rulings were based on appeals to EPRT decisions by Ernesto Bugeja. In its objection to the application for the development, NGO Din L-Art Ħelwa claimed it would lead to the “destruction” of historical underground chambers in the area.

With other objectors, they claimed that planning policies were misused to bypass a requirement for open public space in the area. By splitting the complex into multiple proposals for smaller developments, the developers could sidestep the requirement by paying a small fee per square metre.

In his decision, Judge Mark Chetcuti found that the “Tribunal did not adequately apply the provisions of the development brief” for the area drawn up in 2009.

He revoked the tribunal’s decision, rendering Attard’s outline permit for the development “without any strength or validity in law”.

Similarly, Camilleri’s permit for adjacent garages, maisonettes and apartments was also revoked.

In comments to The Shift, GAP’s Paul Attard claimed that no construction occurred on the site delineated by the outline permit.

On the other hand, Camilleri said his building had been “constructed legally according to approved permits” and that “the court was mistaken”. He is seeking legal advice on the issue.

More than a dozen other developments have had their permits revoked through similar court sentences, raising serious questions about the Authority’s review mechanisms.

Only last week, The Shift reported how, in another Court of Appeals sentence, Judge Chetcuti ruled a development in Qala, Gozo, illegal. That complex too, built by Joseph Portelli, had been built and sold.

The permitting and appeals system allows a development permitted by the Planning Authority to continue even if objectors appeal.

Last year, Prime Minister Robert Abela pledged to change the law and introduce a ban on construction works under appeal, but nothing has changed.

                           

Sign up to our newsletter

Stay in the know

Get special updates directly in your inbox
Don't worry we do not spam
                           
                               
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

19 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
makjavel
makjavel
23 days ago

What happens to the illegal buildings that have been sold?
What should the owners who do?
Just cry. It is their fault.
They were hoodwinked by the dveloper.
MEPA states that it is not responsible for the development done during legal actions.
But MEPA is responsible for its incompetence.
The board members are personally responsible.
So these owners should take the board members to court for damages.

Michael
Michael
23 days ago
Reply to  makjavel

How can it possibly be their fault? People have purchased properties in good faith. The building is complete.

This is a mindless and selfish complaint and certainly a very blind ruling against honest families who are renders homeless.

S. Camilleri
S. Camilleri
22 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Honest families? Who bought property with a permit subject to appeal? Is it the ruling which is blind or the people who bought with their eyes shut?

Mochael
Mochael
21 days ago
Reply to  S. Camilleri

And who are you? Untouched, I’m sure by such crass ignorance and greed by a weak challenge.

Disgraceful.

Jessica Borg
Jessica Borg
21 days ago
Reply to  Michael

What? How is this mindless and selfish? Another illegal permit, that should not have been approved, and justice was thankfully served. For the families, I hope they will receive compensation, as the property should not have been sold in the first place.

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
23 days ago

This is the second instance of its kind in a period of two weeks.

Now what?

Will all the P.A. members pat themselves on the back and drink a toast to their good fortune – or just quit and hide away in shame?

S. Camilleri
S. Camilleri
23 days ago

“Camilleri said his building had been “constructed legally according to approved permits”. The problem is the Court has found that those permits should not have been approved. And of course the fact that the EPRT, which confirmed the “Authority” ‘s permits, was chaired by an employee seconded by the Planning Authority had nothing to do with it.

Michael
Michael
23 days ago

This ruling has no consideration whatsoever for the people who have purchased the properties as approved by the planning authority. The expense and pain inflicted upon people who have sold their property in readiness to move is an absolute slant on the court ruling for acting without any forethought.

The complete building is 99% ready. The outline plan adjacent untouched at this stage.

Why would the court act in such a blind and inconsiderate way?

I fully respect the right challenge but…

What benefit to the complainant is stopping 20+ families moving into a competed plot?

Instead it now remains dormant with many families seriously affected by considerable expenses and more importantly the lack of a home.

One should be reminded that the whole of Tal Papa is build on once open farmland.

I sincerely hope the court see sense and allow for the built development to be used as per the intent. Rendering people homeless should never be the intent of any government or national authority.

That is exactly what has happened with this ruling.

Yours very annoyed.

Ganni
Ganni
22 days ago
Reply to  Michael

I think that if you want environmentally considerate and affordable housing, it has to be built somewhere.

However, I doubt that the buildings being planned, built, and sold are environmentally friendly, and affordable.
I think this, due to the construction industry mindset (like all industries), first priority is the bottom line.
While the environment of the area, and the welfare of the people that want to & already live there, a second priority.
From my perspective only this court decided, that maybe these priorities should change order.
In this I thank JP Sofia’s soul.

About the ‘to be made’ homeless families, their price should be paid by the developers or the individuals that got used to build piece meal first, and ask questions later.

Mochael
Mochael
21 days ago
Reply to  Ganni

I take your point but in this instance, there is absolutely nothing amiss with the erected building. It is NOT affecting any sacred or historic landmark. This is clearly a shoot from the hip decision based on a lack of foresightand due care to the consumer. by the court officials.

Ganni
Ganni
5 days ago
Reply to  Mochael

The point is not the building per se ( please read my comment properly), my perspective is that all buildings being built are based on the motivation to make more money and avoid regulations by the contractor/ developer/ sur stivala and co. None of these builds take care of the environment or the people that already live there or want to live there. Have any of you checked the area before and after the construction? Have you checked how the already present community was effected? Or did you just check the paper design and architecture scetch? People live there already, and at least before there was more vegetation, now it’s concrete and bricks.

It seems to me, that with regards to this article, the people swindled into purchasing buildings on plans are being used as an excuse by the construction industry to continue the unregulated destruction of this small country for financial gain.

In my opinion, especially when living directly adjacent, just because it is erected doesn’t mean that it cannot be brought down.

S. Camilleri
S. Camilleri
22 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Why blame the Court which decided according to law? One should have learned by now not to trust “developers” or the so called planning “authorities” in cahoots with them and make the necessary inquiries before purchasing.. I understand you are annoyed but others too are very annoyed with the lawlessness of those who should uphold the law.

Mochael
Mochael
21 days ago
Reply to  S. Camilleri

With respect, your comments are astonishing

I blame the court because they have affected the consumer directly. This building is built for heavens sake. It was granted due approval and permits by the PA. If the decision was flawed then why affect the consumer? The building is totally fine, adequate and not affecting any sacred or historic landscape. This is a blind decision in my opinion. The complainant cannot honestly be satisfied with this outcome surely. There is yet another now unfinished structure, albeit 99% complete. For what, ones ego? A desire not to have any obstruction to their dwelling.

This is a travesty to the genuine and hard working people on Malta.

Making people homeless.

Well done.

Paul Borg
Paul Borg
22 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Your concern for the people who bought properties is well founded, but the Court can only pronounce in accordance with the law. The persons DONE IN by this fraud will need to sue for compensation and damages, unfortunately.
The developers and the PA SHOULD BE IN JAIL for perpetrating this con.

Mochael
Mochael
21 days ago
Reply to  Paul Borg

I agree and disagree. The court can look deeper into the impact of any judgment. There was a clear assumption that the court is correct an valid in its findings.

The building is soundly constructed, not on a sacred nor historic landscape.

What is the sense in stopping people who have outlaid for their homes not to proceed to live?

The decision has rendered people homeless and I believe in 2024 that in itself is illegal.

Wild and blind decision. Irrelevant if the PA or developer was deemed to be in error, which incidentally is yet to be appealed.

IMO, this is a law/approach to judgements that affects only the honest citizens of the country.

Austin Sammut
Austin Sammut
22 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Any person who proposes to purchase property should carry out extensive searches, especially in this age of greed and sleaze. A proper search would reveal, one, whether there is a permit for the development, and, two, whether such a permit is the subject of an appeal. In that case going ahead is at the purchaser’s risk. No one but himself to blame if a permit is revoked – certainly not a court which has the duty to revoke an illegal permit. Recourse is to be had to the vendor for damages.

Mochael
Mochael
21 days ago
Reply to  Austin Sammut

With all due respect.

This comment is absolute rubbish.

If a permit is approved and the building is sold, then never should it be revoked. The PA was approved. Unless the building is constructed without due care and duty.

Not the case here.

The challenge and appeal is weak and based on selfishness and greed, nothing more.

Thus affecting good people and making families homeless

99% of the area we as once fields. Clearly some have short memories.

Greed and ignorance.

If anyone should be affected then it’s the PA ffinancially or a decision deemed erroneous.

To state extensive searches to be carried out, that is done when ready to complete and not prior.

I’m furious and cannot believe such comments.

Michael
Michael
21 days ago
Reply to  Austin Sammut

Wow. The mindlessness and ignorance. I’m alright approach.

Greed of the challenge will result in Karma.

Zhuhsi
Zhuhsi
21 days ago
Reply to  Austin Sammut

Most sensible! What are Notaries for, anyway?

Related Stories

BA directive against Metsola ‘unprecedented’, must be suspended
The European Parliament office in Malta has reacted to
VistaJet files €386 million lawsuit against rival company
VistaJet, a private jet company registered in Malta, has

Our Awards and Media Partners

Award logo Award logo Award logo