The Malta Independent 24 October 2021, Sunday

Corinthia will need to pay €10.3 million to be allowed to build residential units in Hal Ferh

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 23 September 2021, 17:42 Last update: about 30 days ago

Corinthia Golden Sands Resort Limited will need to pay €10.3 million in order for its contract with government to change and allow part of the site to be used for residential use.

The Parliamentary National Audit Office Accounts Committee met today to discuss a resolution over the change in the agreement. The whole Hal Ferh site, currently, can only be used for tourism purposes.

During the meeting, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said that in January 2021, the Planning Authority approved the Partial Revision of the Northwest local plan and the Hal Ferh Development Brief, after the approval from the Environment Parliamentary Committee.

These changed the permitted use on a part of the site, around 30,600 sqm of it, from tourism use, to residential. This would allow for 25 villas together with roads and public passages with the condition that the developable gross floor area ratio within this zone would not exceed 9,000sqm, Schembri said.

In order for this to take place, a particular clause, clause 19 within the emphyteutic agreement with the government however, would need to be changed as it currently does not permit residential use, he added.

The original agreement also allowed for such changes to the conditions against a monetary payment to the government reflecting an increase in immovable asset value, Schembri said.

After the owners requested that clause 19 be modified, three architects were appointed to calculate the monetary amount. They calculated that the increase in value would be €10,360,030.

The resolution was passed through the committee stage and will be put on Parliament’s agenda.

Opposition MPs did not attend the meeting, saying that the party “saw no valid reason” why the meeting was called urgently before Parliament convenes on 4 October.

PN Deputy Leader David Agius had told the committee’s secretary that he “does not see the urgency for this meeting to occur on this date, as government MPs did not see the need to meetings of other parliamentary committees during the summer recess.”

The PN said that over the summer recess, it asked parliament to meet to discuss far more urgent topics, not least of which was a motion of no confidence in Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, “as well as the fact that it was the government’s fault that Malta ended up on the FATF’s grey list (…) The government chose to ignore these requests.”

The Parliamentary National Audit Office Accounts Committee opted to go through with its meeting regardless.

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