Redevelopment of Mistra Village: controversy is back

In a recent publication in the Government Gazzette, an application was submitted to the Planning Authority to renew the controversial permit seeking to redevelop the site formerly occupied by Mistra Village complex. The planning application (PA/06747/18) was published on the 14th August 2018.

The application was submitted by Charles Camilleri on behalf of Gemxija Crown Ltd.

Gemxija Crown Ltd is a joint venture between the Maltese companies JPM Brothers and a Kuwaiti enterprise. Camilleri, who co-owns another construction company which already partners JPM Brothers in the Jerma Project, applied on behalf of Gemxija. JPM Brothers is the company owned by the Montebello Brothers who had originally sought to re-develop the former Jerma Palace Hotel. Now, Porto Notos, formed in September 2013, is seeking to take up the baton in Marsascala.

The redevelopment of Mistra Village proposes the construction of four residential blocks with retail and office space below as well as private parking. The application also includes a proposal to develop public spaces, landscaped gardens and a communal pool. The application is a permit to renew the already approved permit, PA/06236/08.

Non-Governmental Organisation Din l-Art Ħelwa had said that the proposed project as approved in 2013 would have a huge permanent visual impact on the surrounding area. The building would be considered as a high-rise and the organisation had firmly said that no such building should be constructed on ridges. Din l-Art Ħelwa had also asked for the outline permit granted prior to the full development permit due to a number of incomplete and irregular procedures.

The Ramblers Association of Malta had objected to the environmental planning statement back then presented by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, MEPA. Ramblers had said that the impact assessment of the new skyline on rural landscapes was found to be lacking.

In 2013, the Ombudsman issued a report on the issuing of the full development permit. The architect in charge of the investigation had concluded that MEPA was wrong when issuing the initial outline permit in 2008.

Transport Malta had acknowledged that the traffic situation around Xemxija could be worsened by the sheer scale of the project back when the first permit was approved, according to the Case Officer’s Report.

The development permit was issued against a bank guarantee of €200,000 in order to ensure that the entire development is finished. The money would be released once a written confirmation by MEPA would state that the project was completed.

Located within the site was a Grade 1 scheduled Flour Mill which the developers are bound to protect from damage and conserved.