The Malta Independent 25 February 2020, Tuesday

Updated: Pietà 10-storey hotel proposal turned down by Planning Authority

Albert Galea Thursday, 30 January 2020, 13:50 Last update: about 26 days ago

A proposal for a 10-storey hotel on the Pieta coastline was given the thumbs down from the Planning Authority’s board on Thursday.

The application would have seen the demolition of buildings and the construction of a 149-room four star hotel across 10 storeys, but it was rejected unanimously by the Planning Authority board.

The hotel would have been built next to Giardino Zamitello, visually dominating the garden’s views of the harbour town from Msida creek and Valleta, while also competing with the visual dominance of St Luke’s Hospital and blocking views of the nearby Villa Frére gardens.

Heritage Malta and the Pieta Local Council both objected to the project, with the CEO of the former Noel Zammit and the Pieta mayor Karl Tanti both addressing the board and calling on them to refuse the application.

In what is quite an unprecedented move, the Cultural Superintendent Joe Magro Conti also addressed the board directly, stating that he objected to the project due to the impact on the historical landscape and gardens which surround it, noting that the mass of the project was exaggerated and that there was no balance between development and cultural protection. 

The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage normally limits itself to making formal recommendations in writing.

The PA’s Case Officer had recommended that the project be refused, due to the height of the building, noting that “the proposal runs counter to the Height Limitation Adjustment Policy for hotels and the overall objectives of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development Urban Objective 2 to improve the townscape and environment in historic cores and their setting and so does not comply with Urban Objective 2.”

“The proposed development, which is being objected to by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, runs counter to the 'Height Limitation Adjustment Policy For Hotels', since the proposal would impact on sensitive historic environments (the Scheduled gardens of Villa Frere and St.Luke's Hospital), interfering on key strategic, long distant views to the sea. In this regard, the proposal also conflicts with Urban Objective 2 which seeks to improve the townscape and environment in historic cores and their setting”, the case officer had concluded.

Despite the project architect’s insistence that the development would bring a new lease of life to the area and that the gardens would be mostly restored, the PA board was steadfast in its resistance to the project, with all board members voting against it.

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