The Planning Authority board will on Thursday meet to decide whether to sanction a host of illegal developments and deviations by Polidano Brothers in Hal-Farrug, over a decade after the PA first opened enforcement proceedings against them.
In two separate applications, Charles Polidano – known as ‘iċ-Ċaqnu’, applied for the sanctioning of a raft of developments which were the subject of a PA enforcement notice in 2011, which has been suspended for a number of years pending these applications, and for the redesign of his company’s head office block and of an already approved fuel station.
The two applications – which were both filed in July 2010 – seek to sanction a number of irregularities which have accumulated across the years. The Planning Authority’s board will decide on both applications on Thursday.
In both cases, the Planning Authority’s case officer has recommended that the application be granted.
The first application – PA 3354/10 – seeks consent for the sanctioning of a hollow core block (bricks) production area, the replacement and installation of equipment related to the approved plant operators, aggregate bins and localized enclosures to approved external plant storage areas, and the change of use of an approved store to an acetylene plant.
The second application – PA 3356/10 – seeks the consent for the sanctioning of a whole host of developments on every floor of the company’s head office block.
These developments include a whole underground level of parking at -2 level, and the construction of three whole new levels on top of what was approved in the existing permit.
The 19-metre office block is in fact nearly double the 10.5 metre limit for developments inside so-called areas of containment, which are areas outside the development zone earmarked as industrial sites.
The case officer however concluded that the height is acceptable because it is dwarfed by the nearby almost 40-metre-high Lufthansa Technik hangar.
A new workers’ quarters is also included in the application, with the justification being Polidano’s tendering for projects that require the periodic engagement of “large specialised foreign teams” working on shift basis between the plant and the respective construction sites, which necessitate “in-house temporary workers accommodation”.
The case officer recommended a condition forbidding permanent residential occupation in the area allocated for a workers’ quarter, which should be operated “as one unit under one management”.
A Green Transport Plan submitted to the PA in 2015 indicated that there is space for 64 employees to live in these quarters.
The application also asks for the sanctioning of a redesign to a fuel station, so to allow for “more safe and comfortable use and deemed necessary particularly due to the relatively high proportion of larger industrial vehicles expected to be making use of this facility.”
“Moreover, the proposed ancillary car wash & tyre inflation bays will be providing an additional amenity to the plant vehicles and public users alike”, the report reads.
The case reports indicate that Polidano will have to pay a total of €36,579.80 across both applications given that the infringements being sanctioned are not minor.
Charles Polidano is no stranger to illegal developments – just last year, the Planning Authority brought to a halt illegal works at the nearby Montekristo Estates, where he has racked up over €700,000 in daily fines.
In November 2013, the Planning Authority had descended on the large site in Ħal-Farruġ accompanied by soldiers and police officers armed with automatic weapons. However, the PA’s hope of demolishing the illegalities on site was short lived after Polidano obtained a court injunction to stop the direct action.
The PA had said at the time that according to their estimates, illegal construction work in the area, owned by iċ-Ċaqnu, covered around 64,000 square metres of land.