NGO Din L-Art Helwa today filed a court case against the Planning Authority over what it says are illegal demolition works being carried out on Villa St Ignatius in St. Julians.
In a sworn court application, DLH had demanded that the structures there be protected, saying they were in an urban conservation area ad formed part of a larger property-the first Jesuit college in Malta- which is of architectural and historical importance.
E&G Developments Limited acquired the property in September 2017 and had started demolition works in December. DLH says there was no notice, permits or authorisations from the Local Council, police or the Building Regulation Office for these works.
An Enforcement Officer from the PA and two police officers had visited the site and ordered that the demolition cease until the permit issue was clarified, but as soon as they left, says the application, the workers were sent back to continue demolishing the building until after sunset, said the plaintiff.
At 6pm that day the same enforcement officer and policemen returned to the site, together with a second enforcement officer. “Despite the blatant breach of the law, no proceedings were taken, rather (the enforcement officer) Brian Joseph Borg was given orders by his superiors (identified by persons present as Executive Chairman Johann Buttigieg) to permit the work…”
On 4 December 2017, lawyer Franco Vassallo write to architect David Mallia, who had signed the permit, to ask the PA to take immediate action to stop the demolition, “however the defendant Johann Buttigieg refused to take action despite the blatant breach of an order of the court and the permit issued by the authority itself and invited Dr. Vassallo to file court proceedings…”
The plaintiff had sent a letter to the PA, requesting an enforcement order due to the failure to abide by the conditions in the permit and declare it null and void.
However despite a number of requests and the sending of a judicial letter to the Authority, it had not given a decision on the NGO’s demand. As over two months had passed, at law, this was to be taken as a refusal, argued the plaintiff, who asked the court to declare it as such and therefore a breach of administrative law and the principles of natural justice and an abuse of power.
Lawyers Franco Vassallo and Michael Camilleri signed the application.
Original article found on The Malta Independent