The Malta Independent 21 October 2019, Monday

FAA appalled to see continuing destruction of iconic heritage buildings

Thursday, 5 January 2017, 17:23 Last update: about 4 years ago

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar are appalled to see the continuation of developer's abusive attempts to demolish iconic heritage buildings in order to redevelop these properties and their mature back gardens into multi-storey apartment blocks.

The property next in line for demolition is a prestigious mid-19th century 2-storey townhouse on Cathedral Street, Sliema. The stately home is laden with irreplaceable features of historic and architectural value, amongst them a stone-sculpted coat of arms, an elaborately detailed stone staircase, a barrel-vaulted well(extending beneath neighbouring properties) and an ornate niche at the far end of its mature back garden.

FAA questions why none of these invaluable features were shown in the photos submitted to the Planning Authority as part of the application. Such an abusive attempt by certain architects to hide the heritage value of these properties in unacceptable.

This development will not only result in the immediate loss of this distinguished building but will threaten the integrity and character of the entire row of historic townhouses it forms part of as its demolition will set a precedent for their inevitable destruction. The situation will be further aggravated by the resultant destruction of the few remaining mature gardens serving as green open spaces in this over-developed area.

At 6 storeys this development is completely in excess of the permissible height set according to existing policies that impel all development in protected village cores to respect the proportions, scale and design of the surroundings, further limiting any additional floors to the prevailing heights set by existing buildings.

This imposing development fails on all accounts, the FAA said.

These properties have retained the illustrious character that once embodied Sliema and thus been rightly recognized by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage as being worthy of protection.

In light of the Planning Authority's Environment and Planning Review Tribunal's recent approval of an application to demolish a landmark traditional 19th century townhouse in St Julian's, reversing three previous decisions, FAA calls on the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage to issue an Emergency Conservation Order on this threatened historic building, to ensure its protection, and urges the public to speak out about similar cases of destruction of heritage taking place in Malta and Gozo's towns and villages.

It is the Planning Authority's and Superintendent's responsibility to protect our heritage and stop allowing the destruction of all that truly makes Malta great, the FAA emphasised.

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