A controversial extension to Portomaso was turned down by the Mepa board this afternoon after chairman Austin Walker used his casting vote.

The board members were tied with six votes in favour and six against after a four-hour debate held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre before a crowd of some 100 people. 

The discussion revolved mainly around a clause in the previous Portomaso permit which stated that no further extension or development could be carried out in the area.

However, the legal representatives and the architects of the Fenech family, who want to develop the land, argued that the local plan approved 10 years later included this particular site as suitable for development.

A number of NGOs and neighbouring residents insisted that the permit condition was very clear and could not be superseded.

Various environmental concerns were also raised.

Mr Walker criticised the decision to include the condition in the first permit precluding further development saying that the hands of future board members should not be tied down in this way. He also expressed concerns about over-development and about enforcement orders not having been acted upon yet.

During the vote, PL representative Roderick Galdes voted in favour of the project while PN representative Joe Falzon was away.

The proposed development was to have consisted of 46 apartments with a total floor-space areas of 6,710m², a sea water Lagoon with an area of 2,850m², 26 parking spaces plus  60 spaces within existing Portomaso carpark.

The site in question, covering approximately 7,543m² falls  between a centuries-old coastal entrenchment wall and the sea. It falls within the Portomaso complex and overlooks the shore. The Hotel Cavallieri at its South, the Portomaso Yacht Marina at its North and a wing of the existing Portomaso apartments at its West.

The site is at the end of Spinola Road in St. Julian’s and accessible through it. The new building will be at a lower level than the existing Portomaso apartments.

At the lower end of the site, in the vicinity of the yacht marina quay, there is an existing service tunnel leading to the Portomaso car-park.

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