Work on massive Villa Rosa project starts despite ongoing appeal

PM promised change in May 2023 but nothing done

 

Heavy machinery, trucks, bulldozers, and an army of foreign workmen have taken over St George’s Bay in St Julian’s in the past weeks, demolishing buildings to make way for a massive tourism and residential complex instead of the historic gardens of Villa Rosa.

Work started a few days ago despite the permit still being under discussion following two appeals filed. The timing of the work coincides with the peak tourism season in one of the island’s most popular localities.

The Environmental and Planning Review Tribunal threw out an attempt by objectors to stop the works until a final decision on the appeal was made.

In May 2023, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced a reform in the permitting process of the Planning Authority, stating that projects would not be allowed to commence until an appeal was heard. More than a year later, the rules announced by Robert Abela are still not in place, giving further advantage to developers to get on with their jobs before the promised rules are introduced.

This has already resulted in the court striking down permits when projects were completed and sold.

The Shift has revealed how two sitting ministers, Roderick Galdes and Silvio Schembri, occupy constituent offices in buildings owned by Tal-Franċiz.

Demolition, the first phase of the project, is expected to take place during the summer months and ready by September. This includes work on both sides of the bay because apart from the Villa Rosa area, Camilleri will also be developing Cresta Quay.

A render of the shadows on St George’s Bay at 6pm in June – Photo: ERA

While a permit was issued in 2016, fronted by architect Colin Zammit of the Maniera Group, another was revoked in 2022 for lack of information given to objectors during the process. The permit was re-issued just six months later.

At the same time, while works are now in full swing, Camilleri has also filed a new application, intended to amass even more units into his multi-million-euro sprawling project.

Camilleri is asking the Planning Authority to allow him to build three massive towers, two of which will rise to 27 floors and a third 34 storeys high.

An Environmental Impact Assessment of the development, which will take much of the shorefront property around St George’s Bay, found that it would have a major impact on the environment as well as air quality, both during construction as well as when it starts to operate.

In a rare statement, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association also expressed serious concerns about the proposed towers, saying they would cast a shadow on St George’s Bay, ruining its attractiveness to tourists.

                           

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S. Camilleri
S. Camilleri
23 days ago

“… the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association also expressed serious concerns about the proposed towers, saying they would cast a shadow on St George’s Bay, ruining its attractiveness to tourists” There are two words I could have used in reponse to the MHRA: “s…w you”. Your monstrous “developments” have ruined for ever the coastline for us residents of these islands but you are concerned about tourists staying in the shade for a few hours?! Unbelievable sense of entitlement.

Keith Lewins
Keith Lewins
23 days ago
Reply to  S. Camilleri

The huge shadow cast by the proposed building will be a death knell for St George’s Bay, especially the beach area. But of course the P.A. Has seen the rendition as well so they obviously don’t think it’s a problem. Do you know of an beaches where tourists go to sit in the shade?

Nigel Baker
Nigel Baker
23 days ago
Reply to  Keith Lewins

The sun will shine on the bay for much of the day as it faces roughly east. The shade would probably be welcomed by tourists and locals alike later in the afternoon, especially in the height of summer.

Brian Borg
Brian Borg
23 days ago

Nothing new from Camilleri. No surprises here. Same modus operandi as in Mistra Village site Xemxija. Removed from tourist zone (never before) and with appeal still pending. Skrewing a whole community by depriving them of over a hundred parking spaces, choking the air they breathe with excessive dust (absolutely no dust mitigation procedures in place), and polluting the area with excessive digging noises. No enforcement whatsoever. We are all doomed!

Betta Ellul
Betta Ellul
23 days ago

This country is lost. Imagine another European country burying that lovely, old villa and destroying such a beautiful garden. It’s heartbreaking to imagine it gone because I spent many happy hours there as a child. It’s also incredibly frustrating to think that, no matter what, it’s going to happen and there’s nothing I can do about it…

makjavel
makjavel
22 days ago

Don’t ask where is Abela with all his promises.
He is very busy watching his back side.
Muscat’s gang ready to kick him out if the MEP elections turn 3/3.

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