The Malta Independent 26 June 2019, Wednesday

Grand Hotel Verdala redevelopment still on the cards

Kevin Schembri Orland Saturday, 25 May 2019, 10:29 Last update: about 1 month ago

Plans for the Grand Hotel Verdala are still on the cards, as new plans were submitted to the Planning Authority earlier this month, and the Environment Impact Assessment was issued for public consultation.

Prior to this latest update, the last plans were submitted back in 2017. Back then, news reports read that the application was for a 40-suit boutique hotel and apartments.

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The site is located on Triq Inguanez, on the north-eastern edge of the settlement of Rabat, Malta, occupying an elevated position on the escarpment marking the eastern edge of the elevated Dingli Plateau

The application reads: “demolition of the existing Grand Hotel Verdala and its proposed redevelopment to achieve a better skyline and urban setting. The development consists of residential units, ancillary retail use and 5 star Spa Hotel.”

The total site area is listed as 10000 sqm, according to the public application form.

The latest application proposes a development of five storeys above ground floor level.

The plans show that the development would be spread over three blocks, each shrinking in size the higher they rise.

The Environmental Impact Assessment has also just recently been released for public consultation. “The project is proposed by Angelo Xuereb, on behalf of Royal Hotels Ltd,” it reads. The former Grand Hotel Verdala was constructed in the late 1960s and opened as a 160-bedroom 5 Star hotel in 1971.

The Environmental Impact Assessment reads: “The Scheme takes the form of a 5-Star hotel, with 40 guestrooms and 17 serviced apartments, a wellness centre, multi-purpose hall, restaurant, and an outdoor pool.  The Virtù Heights Suites block will operate as an annex to the hotel, comprising another 19 suites.  The Scheme will also comprise a private residential complex of 85 apartments, with approximately 523 m2 of retail space in four retail units.  A total of approximately 179 car parking spaces will be provided on site.”

“he Scheme will have a smaller footprint, smaller floor area and lower height profile than the former Grand Hotel Verdala, or than the development granted for the site.  With the exception of the unroofed terraces to the ground level residential units in one of the blocks, the Scheme will not extend beyond the building line of the existing Grand Hotel Verdala.  The Scheme envisages new open (green) space at the interface of the site with Triq Inguanez, Triq Santa Katarina, and Triq San Bastjan.”

The new hotel will have eight levels of accommodation, increasing from three to seven storeys in height along Triq Ir- Rgħajja . Aat the rear - overlooking the ridge - the hotel will rise to eight storeys.

The two apartment blocks will rise to seven storeys (21 m) and eight storeys (26 m).

The report highlights that with no intervention on the Scheme site in connection with the Scheme, the site could remain as is.  “The previous hotel has been partly demolished, the site has been cleared, and parts of the site have been excavated.  What remains of the hotel building is in a bad state of disrepair.  With no intervention on the site in connection with the Scheme (and assuming no other intervention), there is the likelihood that the existing building on site will continue to deteriorate physically. This has the potential to impact on those living and working in the vicinity of the site, by reason of a general deterioration of the ambience, including visual amenity, and possibly as a result of odours, rodent activity, and vandalism and other anti-social activity.”

The EIA highlights that the impact of the scheme on visual amenity is also considered to be generally positive. “ n respect of 10 of the 11 viewpoints assessed, it is considered that the Scheme will improve the view compared to what it is currently, with the change ranging from minor to moderate significance.”

The assessment highlights that the impact of the Scheme in respect of traffic noise emissions when it comes into operation is considered to be of major significance.

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