The Malta Independent 26 November 2022, Saturday
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PA board expected to discuss controversial hotel Excelsior extension tomorrow

Tuesday, 4 October 2022, 12:43 Last update: about 3 months ago

A planning application proposing an extension to the Grand Hotel Excelsior comprising of an additional new wing consisting of 77 guest rooms, which would be connected to existing hotel structure, is set to be discussed by the Planning Authority board on Thursday.

The application also proposes the refurbishment of the outdoor area, including  the pool and bar area, and includes bastion restoration works. The application had been filed in 2018.

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"The proposed new wing involves the lateral extension of the main hotel building to accommodate an additional block that takes the form of a part five / part six storey building with a maximum height of 18.40m from ground level, protruding from the existing main eight-storey block," the case officer's report reads. The new location will be proposed along the Eastern boundary of the site and directly abutting Triq l-Assedju il-Kbir, keeping lower than the road level itself.

The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, commenting on the application, said that it reviewed the proposed development following several pre-submission meetings and site inspections since 2016 drawing particular attention to the scenic values of the site which conditions views of Valletta, of Manoel Island and of Marsamxett Harbour.

"Following different consultations carried out during the whole planning process which requested also a revised proposal with a lessening in terms of volume, mass and height since the original proposal," the Superintendence noted a number of things. The Superintendence took cognizance of "the considerable reduction in height and volume of the proposed new wing."

"The proposed new wing will not extend above the level of Great Siege Road, nor will it visually encroach on the lower part of the scheduled fortifications and obscure them. This is a very considerable improvement on the earlier proposal," it said.

A number of other changes were also made since the original proposal.

"Given this very considerable improvement since the original proposal, and given the absence of significant impact on views of Valletta and Floriana, the Superintendence and the Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee find that the proposed new wing may be favorably considered," but added a few requirements, such as the roof of the new wing needing to be kept as a clear space, devoid of services such as air-conditioning units or water tanks, and devoid of tables, chairs, similar paraphernalia, in addition to a number of other conditions.

The case officer recommended that the project be granted.

Several NGOs had objected to the proposed development over the years, including Friends of the Earth Malta, Friends of Villa Frere, Din l-Art, Moviment Graffitti and others.

Some argued that the proposal goes against a number of existing policies and will have a negative impact on residents and the environment and cultural values of the site. "The area of intervention is an important archaeological area which has already been degraded due to the erection of the current hotel," Friends of the Earth had said for instance.

Friends of Villa Frere had said that the proposal will impact on the skyline of Valletta and Floriana and the enlargement of the existing hotel will exacerbate the current situation further impacting vistas to and from Valletta and Floriana including those enjoyed from Villa Frere. The NGO also said on Facebook that it is "pressing UNESCO for its intervention in stopping this monstrosity from spreading along the foot of Valletta, and further destroying this ancient landscape. This week we have the first Planning Authority hearing during which we shall voice our grievances." It was commenting on a Times of Malta article which read that UNESCO is consulting local authorities over the proposed extension.

 

 

 


 

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