ERA says yes to Joseph Portelli’s second store on Nadur’s scenic Ġebel l-Aħmar

Captain of high-rise development requesting green light from Planning Authority to turn a pile of rubble on Nadur’s scenic Ġebel l-Aħmar, into a 23sq.m agricultural store

Malta’s foremost captain of high-rise development is requesting the green light from the Planning Authority to turn a pile of rubble on Nadur’s scenic Ġebel l-Aħmar, into a 23sq.m agricultural store.

The proposal is being made under the pretext that Portelli, himself a registered farmer, will be reconstructing a “dilapidated” structure – in reality, he will be exploiting a loophole in the PA’s rural policy that allows the reconstruction of countryside ruins to re-establish their original use.

High-rise developer: Joseph Portelli
High-rise developer: Joseph Portelli

Surprisingly, instead of shooting down the application as one contributing to the formalisation of land outside the development zones, or for allowing the proliferation of structures in the countryside as it regularly does, the Environment and Resources Authority gave its conditional approval.

The ERA simply stated that given that the agricultural store was visible in the 1967 survey sheet, it “has no major concerns for its reconstruction” as long “as the same footprint of the original building is retained”.

In 2021, the PA issued a permit to Portelli’s daughter Chloe for the erection of an agricultural store on a neighbouring plot of agricultural land.

Subsequently, the store was not built according to the approved plans and a concrete platform was illegally developed in front of it.

An application to sanction the store prompted strong objections from the ERA and the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, and Portelli backtracked, with new plans that removed the extremely wide apertures, a sloping roof and concrete platform. These were then approved as an amendment to the original application in November 2021.

Previously the site was also subject to an enforcement notice against the construction of very high rubble walls without permit, which were later sanctioned by the PA despite strong objections by ERA and SCH.

Back in 2017 the Planning Authority had also sanctioned a 38sq.m chapel, a 38sq.m horse stable with paddock, a sheep pan, chicken coop as well as an agricultural store already built illegally by Portelli near Ħal Sagħtrija in Żebbuġ.

More then 100 objections were presented against the second store. “Taking into consideration that the whole project has been marred with illegalities from the very start, this application for a second agricultural store cannot but be treated with distrust,” Moviment Graffitti said in one of these objections.