‘Despite So Many Laws Broken, We’re Still Fighting’: Tal-Ibraġ Residents Latest Appeal Against Yorgen Fenech’s Halland Project
Tal-Ibraġ residents, together with the local council, have been fighting a long and arduous battle against the 10-storey block of apartments which is currently under construction, replacing the old Halland hotel and owned by Yorgen Fenech’s Tumas Group.
A permit was granted in February 2019 and ever since, the residents and local community have been appealing this development, with no end in sight.
“As residents, we are very concerned that all the efforts and expenses incurred in this appeal are being prejudiced by the very nature of the appeals process,” the residents told Lovin Malta.
“This construction is progressing at a fast pace while the appeals process is still ongoing.”
“We are concerned that by the time the appeal process is complete and a judgement is ruled, the development would have reached an advanced and potentially irreversible stage of construction. This is definitely a shameful state of affairs.”
“It is critical that better judgment and mindful consciousness from the competent authorities prevails, forcing the developers to go back to the drawing board and thereafter have plans submitted that finally fall in line with the Local Plan and policy laws.”
“It is quite unbelievable that despite the fact that so many laws and regulations have been broken, we are still fighting this battle four years on.”
“It is utterly incomprehensible that such an application with so many errors, omissions, and illegalities should have been given a permit in the first place. To add insult to injury, a request for the suspension of ongoing works was turned down by the EPRT board in January 2023.”
The objection to the original permit was based on a “blatant misinterpretation” of the Local Plan and policies which govern this site.
“Whilst this particular area is characterised by 5-floor apartment blocks, it was inconceivable that a 10-storey block would be approved on a footprint that will now be taking up close to 90% of the site area where footprints are to be kept to a maximum of 40% of the site area,” residents said in a statement.
The Halland Hotel had previously occupied just 30% of the site and was receded from the ridge edge by a distance of at least nine metres.
By comparison, this new development will eventually take up nearly 90% of the entire site leaving just two metres from the ridge edge and the protected valley of Wied Għomor.
The result will be a massive bulky building sitting on a protected valley edge which will only uglify the visual impact to the surrounding area and as far as across the valley scape.
“This is certainly an outrageous disregard for the public’s rights coupled with the destruction of what little natural environment we have left.”
Even if the appeal is successful and the permit has been revoked, any decision undertaken by the appeals process may still be pointless given that in practice and as we very well know, rarely has there been a case in Malta whereby a building has been demolished due to an appeal being won.
“The current process greatly favours the developer to the detriment of objectors and often the environment.”
The residents are therefore appealing to the Prime Minister and to the regulatory bodies to instruct a suspension of construction works until the appeal is heard in a just and fair manner especially given that the current construction will soon reach street level.
Do you think authorities need to step in to halt the construction process until the appeal is decided?