The Qala local council has appointed experts to help it in its fight against plans to turn a tiny dilapidated room in the heart of Gozo’s countryside into a sprawling villa.
Qala mayor Paul Buttigieg said lawyer and conservationist Claire Bonello and architect and green politician Carmel Cacopardo had been appointed to represent the council when the application is set to be decided in October.
The application is to turn a dilapidated room in an Outside Development Zone, known as Ta’ Muxi, in Qala into a large villa taking up several times the footprint with unobstructed sea and country views.
The council had objected to the idea when the developers behind the project had first applied back in 2016.
The Sunday Times of Malta revealed that the area applied for, nearly 5,000 square metres of farmland and garigue, was bought by construction magnate Joseph Portelli’s company last January from a large Qala family at a staggering price of €0.5 million – far above the current market price for ODZ land.
He hopes to turn the small room into a 200-square-metre villa with pool and a sprawling garden.
The plans had been recommended for refusal by the planning directorate and faced objections from Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Nature Trust, Din l-Art Ħelwa, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and the Environment and Resources Authority.
But in a hearing last month, the three-person Planning Commission board said it was “very concerned” that the plans had been recommended for refusal and accused the directorate of having failed to “analyse well the submissions”.
It was only after Times of Malta raised doubts about that the developer’s claims that the rural building had once been home to an elderly woman that the decision was put off until October.
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