The Malta Independent 21 November 2018, Wednesday

Updated: Former Sea Malta building in Floriana being demolished

Monday, 20 November 2017, 09:24 Last update: about 13 months ago

Earlier today, Enemalta plc contractors started demolishing parts of the former Sea Malta office buildings in Floriana, removing unsafe structures that were at risk of collapsing, the company said in a statement.

In recent years, parts of this building, situated at Flagstone Wharf in the Inner Grand Harbour area, were used as a warehouse. However, other parts of this block have been in a state of disrepair for over a decade. These structures were constructed on metal columns embedded on reclaimed land. After years of sea erosion, these foundations are now subsiding.

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The Company’s architects, in collaboration with the Planning Authority, identified parts of this dilapidated building which were at risk of falling onto nearby properties, or in the sea. Demolition works started today and will be completed within a few weeks. Several measures to mitigate noise and dust difficulties are being taken to minimise inconvenience to nearby residents and businesses.

The Company will be conducting further studies to review the stability of the entire site, and to determine future use, once the dangerous structures are removed.

In a statement, the Kamra tal-Periti, together with Din l-Art Helwa and FAA, said they have asked for clarifications from the Planning Authority last Friday, when the Authority’s approval of the demolition of a significant part of the building, on the basis of LN 258 of 2002 Development (Removal of Danger) Order, was brought to its attention.

The former Sea Malta building is a fine modernist building, which, like the Marsa Power Station, did make it to the list of scheduled buildings. 

This Legal Notice allows the Authority to authorise “emergency remedial works to mitigate or remove existing danger”. The Legal Notice requires, inter alia, a clear statement of the degree of danger, and the description of the “full nature, methodology and extent of the proposed works”. In addition, the Authority is only allowed to authorise, by this process, works which are limited to the removal of the danger, and as long as the danger cannot be removed by temporary shoring. The Legal Notice emphasises that the procedure has to be “limited to the minimum emergency works required to remove the source of danger, until any required permission for more lasting interventions is obtained”.

The Kamra tal-Periti can state that, nowhere in the structural appraisal report submitted by the consultants of the Applicant, is it stated that any part of the structure is in a state of immediate danger.

On the contrary, the report advises that “remedial measures to strengthen the existing building are clearly not financially feasible”.

The statement of the applicant, as reported in the media, that the current works are removing unsafe structures that were at risk of collapsing, is not quite correct. The structural appraisal report commissioned by the applicant does not say so. In any case, the Legal Notice envisages that such a dangerous structure procedure can only be issued on the “basis of a detailed site inspection by a … perit appointed by the Authority”. This has clearly not happened, and therefore the procedure is vitiated.

The Authority is called on to immediately declare the dangerous structure approval null and void, since the information submitted to it was not sufficient to merit the use of this particular planning procedure.

 

This is not the way to treat our diminishing modernist heritage. The fact that the site has been immediately added to the Menqa concession, as reported in the media, probably better explains why the structure had to be considered as dangerous. Real estate is more profitable than restoring heritage buildings.

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