An appeal against the db Group’s controversial mega-development in St George’s Bay has been turned down by the Planning Review Tribunal.
After three months of hearings, the tribunal confirmed that the project can go ahead, but that the developer must lower the building height by 10 metres, create 270 square metres of open spaces and keep the entire facade of the scheduled former ITS building.
A proviso that Transport Malta must confirm that the existing road network can cater for the additional traffic within 30 days has also been entered.
The db City Centre Project project, which will consist of a tower of luxury apartments, a 37 storey Hard Rock Hotel, a 24,000 square metre shopping mall, and other high-end establishments, was approved by the Planning Board last November by 10 votes to four, with over 4,500 people submitting representations.
However, a total of 17 entities made up of residents, local councils (Pembroke, St Julian’s, and Swieqi), and NGOs teamed up to appeal against the decision; a spillover from massive communal involvement in combating the project.
The critics referred to revelations that Planning Authority had paid over €8,750 on a private jet to fly one of its board members from Sicily to Malta to cast a vote on the project, a decision that was criticised by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg, and the Ombudsman’s office.
They also claimed that two other PA board members had undeclared conflicts of interest – Matthew Pace because he co-owns the Swieqi Remax branch, which had marketed the db project, and Labour MP Clayton Bartolo, because his father and uncle are shareholders in a watersports company which operates out of the Mellieha Tunnynet complex, owned by db Group chief Silvio Debono.
Beyond arguing against the extensive this project would have on residents and the environment, the appellants have also pointed to undeclared conflicts of interest of two PA board members, Matthew Pace, and Labour MP Clayton Bartolo.
Bartolo’s father and uncle are shareholders in a company who operates in one of Silvio Debono’s properties, while Pace, is a co-owner of a Remax property branch who has promoted the project.
Concerns over the proposed tunnel and other surrounding infrastructure crucial to the development have also been raised due to the lack of concrete plans over its construction.
It is still unclear whether it will be the government or db group who will be paying for the construction of a tunnel and other surrounding infrastructure crucial to the development.