Controversial demolition works on a Knights-era farmhouse in Qormi have been ordered to stop after it emerged they were carried out without the required permission.

Concerns were raised last week after photos emerged showing the demolition of the historic building on the site known as Tal-Istabal, close to the Maltapost offices in Qormi. The site is earmarked for the development of a large retail and office complex.

The farmhouse featured an original coat of arms on its facade, believed to represent Grand Master Manuel Pinto de Fonseca, who was elected in 1741. However, it had been extensively reconstructed after World War II and was in a poor state of conservation.

A Planning Authority spokesman told the Times of Malta that although there was a valid permit for the farmhouse to be dismantled and relocated, the regulator had ordered an immediate stop to all works following a random site inspection last week.

“This action was taken as it transpired that the work was being carried out without an approved method statement,” the spokesman said.

“The authority insists that no further work will be tolerated until such time that the required documentation is processed and all clearances are obtained from all the respective entities.”

Work was being carried out without an approved method statement

One of the developers behind the project, Vincent Borg, had previously insisted, in comments to this newspaper, that all works were being carried out in line with conditions in the development permit.

Yesterday, he could not be reached for additional comment.

The permit for the farmhouse relocation, intended to make way for new road alignments, called for all stones to be individually numbered and photographic surveys to be carried out before dismantling.

The permit also called for the relocation of another historical structure, a mill-room, as well as sanctioning the removal of soil for an investigation of the archaeologically-rich area.

It is part of plans by Centre Park Holdings – owned by Vincent and Charles Borg of V&C Developments Ltd and Anthony Fenech, Paul and Philip Caruana of Quality Holdings Ltd – for a DIY and retail complex, office space and two levels of underground parking.

Environmental groups have opposed the plans due to archaeological remains found throughout the site, which include cart ruts, a Roman rock-cut tomb and an ancient wall.

Nevertheless, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage asked the developer to preserve only the three designated remains and gave the go-ahead for the complete excavation and redevelopment of the rest of the site.

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