The Malta Independent 13 December 2018, Thursday

Application on demolition, rebuilding, extension of Qawra hotel to be discussed Thursday

Kevin Schembri Orland Wednesday, 5 December 2018, 15:19 Last update: about 8 days ago

A planning application to rebuild and enlarge the Seaview Hotel in St Paul’s Bay is expected to be decided upon this Thursday.

This application seeks to redevelop the Seaview Hotel in order to upgrade the existing facility and include additional floors to accommodate a total number of 179 rooms and parking levels with access from the proposed widening of the existing tunnel below the road, the case officer’s report reads.

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The site includes circa 1,500square metres (sqm) of land having frontages along Triq it-Trunciera, Triq l-Imsell and Triq il-Lacci including an existing tunnel below the promenade within the development zone of Qawra, St. Pauls Bay.

Having a difference of circa 3m between Triq it- Trunciera and Triq il-Lacci (the latter being the highest), the site is committed to a hotel building having four floors overlooking Triq it-Trunciera and three floors over Triq il-Lacci.

The application, seeks to see the building height rise a number of levels, with ancillary facilities at the roof level.

A number of concerns were raised with the Planning Authority through public representations.

There were concerns  regarding the loss of St. Pauls Bay’s traditional character and public beaches; and concerns regarding excessive load onto the local infrastructure which cannot support it.

The Planning Directorate noted that at the initial stages of processing of this application, “the proposal included a multi storey hotel development with underground parking having access from an altered tunnel below the existing promenade linking to the coastal area with proposed deck-chairs and umbrellas. The latest proposal has been downscaled.” Indeed earlier plans show several more levels than are present in the final proposal.

Two underground levels for the project are envisaged, and will contain 46 parking spaces, and a gym with an indoor pool.

The lower ground level will contain the reception, cafeteria, restaurant and multipurpose hall, while an upper ground level will contain a restaurant and bar. Levels one to eight will house the hotel rooms.

The Malta Tourism Authority considered the proposal as an upgrade to the product.  “Throughout the processing of the application various development designs with different building heights and massing were being proposed and the latest correspondence from the MTA which relates to a similar design layout as the latest proposal did not raise any particular objections,” the case officer’s report reads.

The Environment and Resources Authority, at the initial stages of processing of this application, objected to the laying of sunbeds on the beach since they would contribute to the further take up of the remaining coast for the further intensification of commercial activity in the area and would contribute to the further environmental degradation and formalisation of this coastal area.

“With respect to the development of the hotel itself, ERA had no particular concerns from an environmental perspective but noted that the proposed development might impose visual impact on long distant views and vistas due to its predominant height....  Following revisions to the proposal such that the change of use of existing boathouses to beach furniture storage and laying of sunbeds on the beach has been eliminated from the proposal, ERA referred that there are no further concerns from an environmental perspective,” the case officer said.

As regards parking, the proposed development includes 131 new hotel rooms (proposed 180 rooms – existing 49 rooms). “The Architect referred that the previous staff complement was 15 people and the proposal will require 37 full time staff and 4 part time and noted that the majority of the staff will be foreigners, which tend to use the general transport buses. The proposed development also includes bar and restaurant and gelateria having a total dining/ sitting area of 300sqm which can be accessed both from the hotel and also from the front garden onto the public road.”

“Whilst the existing hotel does not include parking, the proposed development includes basement parking accommodating 46 car parking spaces. However, only 44 car parking spaces are being considered appropriate since two parking spaces are not in line with standards. Thus, the proposed development includes an under provision of 12 car parking spaces. Considering the above, it is noted that the under provision can be addressed through the Commuted Parking Payment Scheme (CPPS).”

The case officer recommends that the project be approved.

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