The Malta Independent 20 November 2018, Tuesday

PA Board to discuss Fortina Spa Resort re-development today

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 12 April 2018, 08:25 Last update: about 8 months ago

The Planning Authority board today will discuss an application that will see the Fortina Hotel tower rise by five additional storeys.

The Fortina SPA Resort is located on Ix-Xatt Ta' Tigne &, Triq Censu Xerri, Sliema, Malta

The application, according to the case officer’s report, requests the demolition of the existing 194 room four-star hotel, to be replaced by a block of 108 high-end residential apartments and circa 3,000sqsm commercial space on ground floor. It also includes the refurbishment and extension of the existing five-star hotel from the current 128 bedrooms to a total of 240 bedrooms. “The construction of 5 additional floors is proposed overlying the existing tall building. The existing spa and restaurants block behind the existing five-star hotel is proposed for demolishing to be rebuilt to 13 floors with restaurants at the plaza level.”

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“Whilst three basement levels for 419 car parking spaces are proposed below most of the site (except below the existing tower), the current gardens and undeveloped land are proposed to be upgraded into circa 2,500sqm of soft and hard landscaped area fully accessible open space on two levels which shall be maintained by the hotel and remain open to the public all year.”

“The site involves an area of circa 9,505sqm on the Tigne Peninsula within the development boundary of Sliema. The site is committed to the Fortina Hotel Complex which includes a central garden bordered by two hotels as well as an underground link below is-Xatt ta Tigne Road to the lido and ancillary facilities along the coast. The site is within an Area of High Landscape Value of the Harbour Fortifications.”

A number of concerns were raised by persons who submitted their representations on this application. The case officer report notes that “existing timeshare owners in the Fortina Spa Resort who have a contract which runs until 31st December 2045 are interested in how this development will affect them. There was no time allocated for timeshare owners to understand the situation and at no time during the planning process have the many timeshare owners been approached for either their individual or collective comments on the plans.”

“The Applicant declared that he is not the sole owner of the entire site (or part thereof) indicated on the site plan, however, notified the owner/s of the intention to apply. The Planning Directorate notes that these issues concerning contracts go beyond planning considerations and permits are issued subject to third party rights. The Applicant/ Architect are being informed about these issues for their perusal.”

Some argued that the site is public land, “designated for hotel use and thus, if there are to be retail outlets and private luxury residential apartments built on the site of the 4 star Hotel Fortina, extending into the existing 5 star garden and pool area, the land should now be re-zoned. The proposed development is in infringement of a contract of sale of land acquired from Government at the rear of the hotel which limits development to four floors above the level of the existing hotel garden. The Government introduced this condition in the contract to safeguard the amenity and privacy of the residential development adjacent to this property” The case officer noted that the proposed development does not run counter to conditions under which it is let/given on emphyteusis and no third party rights are being infringed by proposed development. He noted that the architect uploaded Government Property Division (GPD) clearance document as part of the ownership notifications.

“Further to the above, the Planning Directorate refers that these issues concerning contracts go beyond planning considerations and permits are issued subject to third party rights. The Applicant/ Architect are being informed about these issues for their perusal”

Concerns were also raised with respect to the impact of this development on the traffic flow in an area that is already congested with traffic, particularly when considering that a new vehicular access to a 3 storey underground car park is being proposed.

The case officer’s report read that the objective of the development is to enhance the touristic appeal to the hotel by restoring the “five-star hotel to its former glory and replacing the dated four-star portion.”  

“The developers consider that the addition of a new luxury development and the revitalisation of this stretch of the Tigne Seafront will lead to a further improvement of the residential as well as the touristic product. The proposed redevelopment involves a unique opportunity to redesign and remodel the massing of the existing hotel complex to improved the skyline for the whole Tigne peninsula.”

The case officer has recommended that the case be approved. 

 

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