The Malta Independent 11 November 2019, Monday

Enforcement action against Montekristo remains suspended due to application filed in 2010

Kevin Schembri Orland Tuesday, 10 September 2019, 09:17 Last update: about 2 months ago

The enforcement action on the Montekristo site in Siggiewi has remained suspended pending the final decision of an application that was filed back in 2010.

In 2008, an enforcement notice was issued on the site. The Planning Authority told this newsroom that the enforcement notice was originally issued in relation to the unauthorised construction of boundary walls, stables and rooms, as well as landscaping and land engineering works without permission. “Subsequent breach of notices were issued in view of construction works which persisted on the Falcon Tower, cafeteria building, as well as the installation of a number of animal cages, a wood-fired oven, the installation of outdoor furniture and completion of hard/soft landscaping.”

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However the enforcement notice in question reads: “Enforcement action suspended. Awaiting final determination of application.”

The Planning Authority confirmed that the suspension is due to an application that was filed in 2010. The 2010 application was filed by Charles Polidano to sanction existing structures and erect an amphi-theatre, falcon tower, and a cafeteria. That application is still pending. The last documents filed for the application according to the PA’s electronic application viewer were back in 2015, and the case status reads: “the case status is currently not available for this case.”

The Malta Independent asked the Planning Authority for information as to what is left to be done before the case officer can draw up his report and the case can be decided. “The Application is still awaiting clearance from the veterinary services department,” the PA representative said.

This newsroom asked the Planning Authority whether, in cases where an enforcement action is suspended due to a planning application to sanction, there is a limit on the length of time that an application to sanction can take, and whether if there is no strict limit, it can be open to abuse and people just leaving applications pending for years, the representative said: “The provisions of Article 97 of the Development Planning Act clearly specify that the operation of the notice, in respect of any requirement other than a requirement stopping or prohibiting any further activity or requiring the cessation of a use, shall be suspended pending the final determination of the application. It must be clarified that the Authority has taken action to ensure that the zoo is closed for the general public and that the facilities are not operated.”

Asked whether, while the enforcement order is suspended, there are any fines for the illegalities being paid, the PA representative said that fines keep on accruing until the final determination of the application. “. A number of daily fine invoices have been issued by the Authority’s Debt Collection Office for this particular case. There are ongoing court proceedings on the amounts which are due to the Authority.”

Back in 2016, this newsroom reported how the 'Falcon Tower', built as a replica of the de Redin tower from the 1600s, was being demolished. This tower was part of Charles Polidano's infamous Montekristo Estate in Safi. This demolition was meant to be done on instruction by the Planning Authority during negotiations to settle a large number of illegalities on this estate. The PA, asked about this, said that the upper two floors of the tower were completely demolished, retaining only the foundations.

 

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