Malta’s Planning Authority has been ordered to pay €331,000 in damages after a court found it guilty of showing preferential treatment to a notorious developer.
The case involves an ODZ plot in Qormi Road, Luqa that now features a LIDL supermarket.
Back in the 1990s, three separate applications to turn the area into a garden centre were turned down by the PA. In their feedback, the PA said any development in that zone couldn’t reach a height taller than the airport’s perimeter fence.
Malta’s International Airport had also objected to the development in the zone as it could present a hazard to flying aircraft.
Following their multiple rejections and hearing that they would not be allowed a permit, the landowners decided to sell the plot off at a lower price… only to find out that a permit had been issued for a supermarket soon after.
It turned out that Charles ‘Ċaqnu’ Polidano had bought the land, obtained a supermarket permit and then sold the land to LIDL for three times the price he paid for the plot.
The landowners sold part of the plot to Polidano for €230,000 in 2007, who then purchased the rest of the area from J.D.G Properties for €1.16 million. By March of that year, he had obtained a supermarket permit, and four months later sold it all to LIDL for €4.63 million.
This week, a court said the circumstances showed a “clear case of distinct treatment” and agreed that the original landowners had been damaged by this treatment.
Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti continued by saying that the different treatment was for “no valid reason at law, to the detriment of the applicants”.
Saying it was “contradictory” to say a garden centre was too commercial to then approve a supermarket, he upheld the original landowners’ claims and ordered damages to be paid.
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