Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Villa Bonici decision expected on Thursday

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority Board will be meeting in a public meeting tomorrow - Thursday 6th February, 2pm - to determine the fate of an application to develop the Villa Bonici site in Sliema.

James Debono

The local plan approved in 2006 makes it clear that development can only be permitted on the site following the formulation of a development brief for the whole site.

The case officer's report reveals that discussions have already started with the owners to devise a new development brief. In fact the developers have been asked by the Planning Directorate to withdraw the present application until MEPA finalises the brief. But the owners have pressed on with the application.

The decision was deferred by a month during a board meeting held on 9 January.

This was done to allow "the applicant to consider his position and for the Directorate to confirm its intentions regarding the Development Brief".

On the eve of the last meeting the developers presented four different proposals for development in the area.

The proposed development consists of 188 apartments in four residential blocks ranging in height between two and 12 floors.

The main reason given in the case officer's report for refusing the development is that no development brief, as stipulated by the North Harbour Local Plan, has been devised for this zone.

According to the case officer's report the project, will result in the complete destruction of the gardens.

A proposed eight-storey block would also have an adverse impact on the scheduled villa, due to the short distance between the two buildings.

In a statement, NGO Zminijietna urged MEPA to ensure that the proposed development is subject to a development brief which includes comprehensive public consultation, before pursuing it any further, and that any development should be subject to an environment impact assessment, social impact assessment and traffic impact assessment.

The Sliema Residents Association had insisted that the area should be developed for community purposes.

The Sliema Local council had also objected to development in the absence of a comprehensive development brief.

Its present owner, Alfred Gera de Petri, has insisted that Villa Bonici is his family's private property and that the villa's location in the middle of urban development gave its owners rights to its monetary value.

"Some people, in their unbridled enthusiasm, seem to forget that owners do have rights and that these are also protected by the Constitution and the European Court," Gera de Petri had told the Times.


Sliema Local Council's official statement to MEPA:

PA/06239/08 – Site at, Triq il-Kurunell Savona, Sliema

The Sliema Local Council, following it’s initial objections to the afore mentioned permit application, insists that this proposed development requires a development brief, including, an Environmental Impact Assessment, a Traffic Impact Assessment and a Social Impact Assessment before the processing of the application continues.

Together with this, the Sliema Local Council demands that a full consultation process accompanies the processing of this development application.

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