Philip Degiorgio, who yesterday saw his umpteenth application to develop a block of flats on the site of Villa Degiorgio in Sliema turned down, is adamant that the villa will still be turned into apartments.

“I’m still going to divide it into flats, but from the inside,” the developer told The Times.

The latest dismissal came after the application was reconsidered following some alterations.

In a statement, the planning authority said although the façade of the existing building was to be retained and the developer, at reconsideration stage, downsized the scale of the original proposed development, the board felt that it would comprise the visual integrity of the streetscape “which is until today predominantly that of two floors”. The board also highlighted that the development would constitute overdevelopment on the site and impact one of Sliema’s “green lung” open spaces, on account of its large garden, something fundamental to the character of an urban conservation area.

“The decision is very screwed up,” Mr Degiorgio said. “If I were building more storeys it would make sense,” he said, insisting the structure would not have gone up higher than the current one.

Astrid Vella from Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar, a vocal opponent of the project, claimed that as the applicant and the objectors were filing out of the Mepa boardroom, Mr Degiorgio turned back and became “threatening and aggressive in her regard and had to be physically restrained as he tried to approach” her. She said he was restrained by bystanders.

When asked about this incident, Mr Degorgio claimed he was “going to fall” and people went to “pick him up”. When told of reports that he looked as if he was about to assault Ms Vella, he said: “Why should I, poor thing... she’s my friend.”

His “friendship” seemed to wobble though when he spoke of the board’s decision to reject his development plans: “Astrid Vella doesn’t know a thing... she didn’t complain when a 200-year-old building was demolished to make room for flats.”

“There’s a seven-storey building in front of me, and three doors away from me they gave a permit for them to add another three storeys,” he added furiously.

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