Over 70 ‘tenants’ at a campsite in Armier are claiming they were conned into buying expensive ‘mobile homes’ from the owner of the company that runs the facility, only for them to later discover such structures were forbidden.
However, Vince Vella, director of Adventure Camping and Leisure Limited who runs the site, is denying such claims, saying he always acted in good faith.
The issue came to light last month, when the facility, located on the outskirts of Mellieħa, was slapped with an enforcement notice.
Earlier this week, Times of Malta reported that apart from encroaching outside the permitted footprint, the list of irregularities flagged by the Planning Authority included the placing of “static caravans” some of which had morphed into “fixed residences”. Such development was in breach of the permit issued on behalf of Mr Vella in 2013, the enforcement notice said.
Following the publication of the story, Times of Malta was contacted by a number of caravan enthusiasts, who recently joined forces to form the Malta Campsite Association. The NGO which comprises over 70 ‘tenants’ of the Armier facility is claiming that they had been “deceived” by Mr Vella.
They claim that under a written agreement with the owner, they had been allowed to place “mobile homes” – another term for static caravans – by leasing part of this site for a fee depending on the structure’s footprint. One of these contracts seen by The Sunday Times of Malta states that the land was being leased for a year at a rate of €20 per square metre.
The association is also claiming that these structures were purchased from Mr Vella himself at an average price of €30,000.
Contracts have been signed, and always in good faith
However, news about the enforcement notice left them fuming as they were allegedly unaware that mobile homes had been placed there in breach of the campsite’s planning permit.
“We were told that this was perfectly legal and those residing there permanently were doing so with his consent,” an Association spokesman told this newspaper.
“Our members had personally enquired if they had everything in line with the law before committing themselves, and were given this assurance by the owner,” the spokesman said.
On the other hand they acknowledged that the manner in which the site was being run did fuel concerns.
“Some structures were even being placed in a parking area and caravans were being crammed, but Mr Vella insisted that he was acting within the permit conditions,” the Association said.
“He should have made us aware of the risks involved and at least alerted us about the enforcement notice which he did not,” the spokesman added.
On his part Mr Vella insisted that he would contest the enforcement order.
“I deny all the allegations. Contracts have been signed, always in good faith. I am also contesting the enforcement notice and at this stage it is premature to comment further,” Mr Vella said when asked for a comment.
Meanwhile, the association said it was considering all options, including taking the owner to court.
“Apart from having been deceived, this is also turning into a social problem, as some of us will end up homeless if the authorities decided to remove the caravans,” some members said.
The Association says it would be willing to take over and administer the site in order to ensure that none of its members lose the investment made so far.
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