Electrogas businessman Mark Gasan is set to be given a permit to build a one-floor villa on secluded outside development zone land falling within Wied il-Ħesri in Żebbuġ, the Times of Malta has learnt.
This follows a decision by the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal last week, which overturned a decision by the Planning Authority.
The area in question, known as Ta’ Bordin, is surrounded by fields between Żebbuġ and Siġġiewi. The Gasan Group CEO, who is involved in the Electrogas power station consortium along with the Tumas Group and medicine importers CP Holdings, has been seeking to develop the site since 2007.
The 2007 application for an outline permit for an abandoned illegal poultry farm to be demolished and replaced by a one-floor residential unit was rejected in 2010, with the decision by the PA’s predecessor, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, being re-confirmed in 2011. This refusal was overturned by the review tribunal in October 2013 on the basis that demolition of the illegal farm should be considered a planning gain as the illegal farm was causing an “adverse visual impact”.
Mr Gasan filed an application for full development in 2015 but the planning watchdog rejected. It concluded that the application for two villas, including swimming pools and semi-basement levels for a games room, gyms, offices, stores and parking areas, went far beyond the one-floor unit envisioned in the outline permit and would breach numerous policies.
According to the case officer’s report on the application, the Environment Protection Directorate expressed concerns that the villas would “obliterate” existing rural features and intensify urban use within the countryside.
The directorate also expressed concerns about possible further future pressure for any other ancillary interventions and further similar developments in the countryside that would lead to a cumulative change in the appearance of the locality.
The case officer’s report said the development as proposed would lead to adverse visual impacts on the surroundings and ran counter to the strategy for the protection of rural areas.
In a decision published last week, the review tribunal overturned the PA’s rejection of the permit. It reiterated past findings that the demolition of the illegal farmhouse would constitute a planning gain.
Mr Gasan’s appeal was upheld and the PA’s decision overturned on condition that only a one-floor villa without a basement was built, in conformity with the case officer’s recommendations.
Apart from the multi-million euro power station project, the Gasan and Tumas Groups were controversially given approval in 2016 to build four towers in Mrieħel.
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