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The controversial Chairperson of the PA’s ODZ Planning Commission Elizabeth Ellul is set to be removed from her position, well-informed sources have told Lovin Malta.

Also sitting on the Planning Board, Ellul ended up in the crossfire of public criticism after failing to declare her conflict of interest when approving Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli’s plans to build a villa in the middle of agricultural land in Qala.

Her husband, Andrew Ellul, is the architect responsible for the multi-million CryptoTower project in Paceville being developed by Portelli.

The project was approved despite the Environment Resources Authority warning that any proposed development at the site was “unacceptable in principle”.

The applicants were somehow able to claim the death of a woman in the ruin back in 1921 as proof of its past residential use, even though it hasn’t had a roof since at least 1978.

Beyond the case, Ellul has regularly drawn the ire of activists who feel the Planning Commission and the Planning Board do little to protect the island against developers’ interests, particularly when it comes to Outside-Development-Zones and Urban Conservation Areas.

Ellul also found herself embroiled in the recent political crisis brought on by the arrest of Yorgen Fenech in connection with the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. She served as a director of the Housing Maintenance and Embellishment Company (HPMU) which handed a phantom job to middleman Melvin Theuma.

The resignation might be welcomed by activists. However, there is still more work to do.

Alfred Pule resigned from the Planning Authority board over a conflict of interest just a month after being appointed to the role. He had replaced Matthew Pace, a real estate agent who failed to declare his conflict of interest in the DB case.

There does seem to be some political appetite for change, with Prime Minister Robert Abela transferring the planning portfolio to the Environment Ministry, which is now headed by the determined Aaron Farrugia.

It remains to be seen how the situation will develop, but Farrugia has already launched a review of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development, Malta’s bible on planning laws.

The Environment and Planning Ministry has also made sweeping changes at Wasteserv, changing its Chairperson with rumours that the vast majority of board members will also be replaced.

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