The Malta Independent 21 October 2019, Monday

Change of heart: Marsascala local council not appealing demolition of 100-year-old building

Helena Grech Saturday, 29 July 2017, 09:24 Last update: about 3 years ago

The Marsascala Local Council has had a change of heart and decided to drop plans to appeal the demolition of one of the oldest houses in the locality, despite having earlier pledged to oppose the Planning Authority's decision and "safeguard this historic landmark."

The house in question, which is located on the seafront in Triq ix-Xatt, is over a hundred years old and features in the oldest pictures of the seaside town.

In June the PA had approved a planning application that would see the demolition of the house, which will be replaced by two-storey, ultra-modern restaurant and overlying apartment.

Apart from residents and the council, a number of heritage NGOs had also objected to the plans. However, the case officer assigned to the application gave the go-ahead for the project, and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage also said that the structure is not of any particular significance, is in a state of disarray and raised no objections to its demolition.

Marsascala Deputy Mayor Desiree Attard had, in a meeting she was chairing, and for which Mayor Mario Calleja was absent, proposed that the council should appeal the decision to demolish the house. In the meeting, councillor Lawrence Ciantar said that he had previously asked for the council to take a vote on the proposed plants as put forward by the architect assigned, however there was disagreement among councillors.

He added that the councillors were misguided by the architect assigned to the project, because during the previous meeting, the architect said that he needed to submit certain documents and the superintendence's report, while in the meantime the period of time allowed for objection submissions had expired.

Councillor Charlot Cassar, however, had pointed out that an objection had already been filed by the council because the architect asked councillors to withdraw the objection.

Minutes from the meeting where councillors decided to the appeal the decision say that:

"There was unanimous agreement by the council to submit an appeal as well as produce a statement saying that this is the last old home on Triq ix-Xatt, and is a landmark within the locality visible from the sea front as well as in all historic images of Marsascala."

However, in the next meeting after this decision was taken, Mayor Calleja submitted a resolution with reference to the building in question. The resolution, read out in a meeting that was being live-streamed online, called for a vote on whether the appeal should be reopened on the basis that the PA had approved the planning application despite the council's objections, on the basis of the superintendence of cultural heritage's lack of objection and in light of the approval by the architect commissioned by the local council.

The Marsascala executive secretary asked the council's architect, William Lewis, to inspect the building and draw up a report that could be used for the appeal against the project. Lewis' report however ultimately stated that "the building is not worth preserving and thus, I am hereby recommending that the appeal is not presented to the planning authority".

The extraordinary meeting took place and the council ultimately voted against appealing the project, meaning that a restaurant will eventually be replacing the historic dwelling.

In the objection initially filed by the local councillors, they urged the case officer to conduct a proper report and re-assess the criteria under which they consider whether a site should be classified as local heritage. The architect tasked to draw up a report for the appeal ultimately seems to have convinced the councillors otherwise, resulting in a decision not to appeal.

This newsroom was unable to contact Mayor Mario Calleja by the time of going to print.



  • don't miss