The controversial application to transform a Gozitan countryside ruin into a villa is yet to be withdrawn, despite its developer Joseph Portelli insisting that he would be doing so with “immediate effect” almost a week ago.
Portelli, who is the developer behind major projects like Pender and Mercury House, said he would renounce the application following widespread outrage at the Planning Authority’s decision to approve the project.
However, almost a week later, the PA’s website shows this is not the case.
It remains to be seen whether the withdrawal has been delayed or whether the developer is just weathering the storm.
In a statement last Sunday, the property magnate said the permit has been “singled out by the Planning Authority and the media” and that there were “tens if not hundreds” of other applications aimed at developing a building on an Outside Development Zone (ODZ) site.
Portelli was set to turn the 31 square metre ruin into a 114 square metre villa. He was able to do this by claiming that a woman had lived there 98 years ago, in 1921. Though the room has been roofless since 1978, Portelli was able to argue that it was a home.
The permit’s approval gained widespread criticism from top Labour officials despite the government’s representative Clayton Bartolo voting in favour. Both the planning directorate and the environment resources authority had recommended against its approval.
PA Board member Alfred Pule has since stepped down after it was revealed that he once sold property to Portelli.
Opposition representative on the PA board Marthese Portelli has since resigned after losing complete faith in its functions.
The project’s architect, Alexander Bigeni, recently submitted plans to develop a terraced house in a Gozitan valley that is outside the development zone.
Lovin Malta has sent questions to the Planning Authority.