Ramla l-Hamra development - Mepa set to revoke permit - www.timesofmalta.com
28 September 2007 - Mark Micallef

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority board has been advised by its lawyers to revoke the permit it had issued for the controversial Ramla l-Hamra development.

The project, which involves the conversion of the former Ulysses Lodge into a 23-unit villa tourist complex, had kicked up widespread protests after it was approved last June.

The Mepa board discussed the legal advice at a meeting yesterday afternoon and decided to take the final decision in a public hearing on Thursday. Immediately after the meeting, a letter, seen by The Times, was sent to the developer informing him of this reconsideration and of the hearing.

The authority’s position hinges on the fact that a tract of the land proposed for development is government owned. The matter had been highlighted by the lobby fighting the development in a report by its consultant Lino Bianco.

Mepa was in a position to stake this claim, this time round, because, for the first time in its history, the planning authority had entered into a public deed with the developer.

The authority does not usually go into the merits of property rights but, in this case, one of the conditions tied to the permit was that the developer enters into a public deed with Mepa, binding himself not to sell the villas as separate units but retain the project as a single unit, a measure aimed at preventing the speculative resale of the villas.

In the letter, Mepa tells the developer that, in order to execute the public deed, the authority carried out research with the Lands Registry where it confirmed that a section crossing the whole length of the site is registered as government land. Moreover, on the basis of a map the developer himself handed to Mepa along with the contract of sale, through which he took over the site, the authority is arguing that he had known all along that the tract of land in question was public.

Unless the developers’ legal advisers manage to convince the Mepa board otherwise on Thursday, the authority will nullify the permit it had issued, killing the project. Should the developer opt to apply for the development of his land, minus the public road, he would have to apply for a permit from scratch.
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28 Sep 2007 by Saveramla.com