The developers of an 8-level block of 24 flats, Joseph Portelli and his partners, have failed to remove rubble and rehabilitate a sensitive habitat that they damaged during construction of the building. This disturbed land was supposed to be “restored” in terms of law – now the developers applied to construct a swimming pool on the disturbed land.

This website yesterday published a detailed illustrated analysis of the swimming pool application – click here to read that article. 

Permit for the block of flats was granted in 2019 despite being in clear breach of planning policies. Construction was carried out after the cliff was gouged out, but the clearance of lush trees and vegetation extended beyond the footprint of the block of flats and beyond the development zones during excavation and construction.  

Excavation of the site extended beyond footprint of building and beyond development lines

At the time, a spokesperson for the Planning Authority told this website: “Some land at the back of the site was disturbed in relation to geological surveying required to establish the structural stability of the proposed foundations. Such intervention is permissible in terms of Class 13 of the Development Notification Order (2016) and the land needs to be restored to its original state.”

The cleared land was used as staging ground for construction material, and for mounting a crane during the construction.  

The area cleared consisted of sensitive maquis habitat, which is one of the main types of ecological habitats in Gozo. Several trees were removed. 

Then, after construction was completed, the rubble was left as it had been strewn on the land and the land was not restored.

Instead, the developers applied to the Planning Authority to develop a swimming pool on the same land.

No mention was made in the case officer report of the failure of the developers to restore the damaged maquis habitat.

In fact the Planning Directorate - the Planning Authority's technical unit – said in its latest report (published yesterday) that the architect failed to submit information on "existing vegetation". Yet as the slider published on this page shows, the trees and lush vegetation that existed on site was cleared during the construction and not "restored". 

The Planning Directorate said in the report that the reasons for refusing the application have not been addressed. 

Meanwhile, the Planning Commission has postponed the hearing that was scheduled for today. The new date for the hearing is next Monday. A spokesperson for the Planning Authority said that all hearings were postponed "after some members were indisposed and so there was no quorum."

This article was updated on 26 April after the Planning Directorate published its latest report and the Planning Commission postponed the hearing by a week. 

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