Construction magnate Charles Polidano has filed a fresh application to sanction illegal works carried out at four historic Balzan townhouses, in defiance of a court judgment.
Last month, Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti turned down an appeal filed by Polidano, known as iċ-Ċaqnu, against a planning tribunal’s revocation of two permits for works carried out on the 300-year-old townhouses and their gardens along Main Street in the heart of Balzan.
The chief justice threw out Polidano’s legal arguments – one of them saying that one of the permits had sanctioned the illegalities – deeming the arguments “unfounded” and “unsustainable”.
The judgment was thought to have brought an end to a 10-year legal battle fought by objectors.
But now Polidano has filed a fresh application which is due to be published in the Malta Government Gazette on Wednesday.
He is seeking permission to carry out “additions, alterations and restoration” on the four adjoining houses as well as “sanctioning in lieu of previously approved” permits.
The application covers the construction of a pool and reservoir and a new facade for an extension he built overlooking the gardens, as well as earlier works.
Polidano had already defied the planning authority last March by initially steaming ahead with works on the large swimming pool and deck, after the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal had revoked his permits. The works were only halted after he was formally notified of the decision.
The tribunal had ruled that the illegalities, covered by two enforcement notices, should have automatically excluded his application from being considered. The site is in the Balzan village core, close to the parish church.
One of the properties, a palazzo and its gardens, dates to the time of the knights and is said to have been used by Grand Master De Rohan as his country residence.
The building next door served as the servants’ quarters and near it was a building used as stables. The property also has an underground cistern.
In 2011, the PA issued an emergency conservation order with a list of remedial works that needed to be carried out on the buildings.
Then, in 2012, the palazzo was included in the national list of scheduled buildings.
The appeals court eventually reduced the fine to €10,000. Objections to Polidano’s fresh bid are being received by the Planning Authority until October 20.
Asked for its position on the application, a spokesperson for the authority said that when the development was carried out, it was covered by valid development permits (PA2802/13 and PA2461/16).
“Since the permits have been revoked, the development carried out is now to be sanctioned or removed.
The Development Planning Act (2016) allows the submission of sanctioning applications that address the development on site not covered by a permit,” the spokesperson said.