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Superintendence asks for changes to plans for grand Sliema building

Cultural watchdog Superintendence for Cultural Heritage called for amendments to an application to redevelop a stately building

James Debono
24 September 2016, 9:03am
The Bilom Group has applied to restore and convert the scheduled building into a boutique hotel and restaurant
The Bilom Group has applied to restore and convert the scheduled building into a boutique hotel and restaurant
The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage is “not objecting in principle” to an application presented by the Bilom Group to redevelop a stately building, called The Cloisters, in Mrabat Road, Sliema, but is calling for amendments, especially in the “treatment of the façade” and the “development above the scheduled building”.

The cultural watchdog also alerted the Planning Authority to the presence of World War II shelters in the “immediate vicinity of the property” which may extend under its footprint

“In the absence of appropriate amendments, the application should not be approved,” an official memo sent by the Superintendence states.

The Superintendence is also calling on the Planning Authority to make available the 3D images of the development which it has received from the developer, and to ask for photographs documenting the interior of the building and to prepare a restoration plan for it.

The works, which include a boutique hotel, would involve the construction of three new floors above the scheduled building along Mrabat Road. Plans submitted to the Planning Authority foresee apartment blocks encroaching on the gardens behind the protected building. 

The terraced development, which reaches up to six storeys, will front Triq Bonaventura and Triq is-Sorijiet, near the Convent of the Sacred Heart. 

The application seeks to establish the building envelope over the 1,640 square metre site which includes a very large garden. 

The Cloisters enjoys grade 2 protection, which precludes demolition but allows alterations and additions which respect the architectural context and integrity of the building. 

But the gardens do not enjoy any protection.   

The Planning Authority had even approved a swimming pool on part of the gardens in 2001. 

The boutique hotel would house 38 rooms while a number of 2- and 3-bedroom apartments are proposed in the rest of the development. There will also be a parking area with 24 garages. 

Established in 1985 as a neighbourhood construction company, the Bilom Group, owned by Michael and Gilbert Bugeja, emerged over the last years as one of the leaders in the real estate market. 

In a sign that the group was expanding, a new subsidiary called Bilom High Rise Limited was set up in June. 

The company, owned by Michael Bugeja, includes shareholding by Darren Desira, who presented the application for the Mrabat development on behalf of the Bilom Group.

James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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