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Updated | Planning Authority gives Westin four new storeys

The permit, which will see the addition of 33 suites, 21 standard rooms and three grand hotel suites, was approved today.

James Debono
13 July 2017, 10:05am
heritage watchdog Din L-Art Helwa has objected to the plans
heritage watchdog Din L-Art Helwa has objected to the plans
The Planning Authority has approved the development of three full floors and an additional receded floor on the existing suites of the Westin Hotel, which overlooks St George’s Bay.

The permit, which will see the addition of 33 suites, 21 standard rooms and three grand hotel suites, was approved today.

The original permit for the hotel, issued in 1995, included a condition stating that no extensions or enlargements of the hotel should be permitted in the future but subsequent permits were issued to sanction additional suites which had been developed illegally.

The case officer invoked local plan policies supporting tourism development in the area to overrule this clause in the original permit.

The additional storeys are also deemed acceptable, as these are considerably lower than the visible backdrop of the existing hotel, which rises approximately three to four floors above the proposed extension.

But heritage watchdog Din L-Art Helwa has objected by pointing out that the extension defies the original terraced approach of the hotel massing, so as to ensure that the building gradually slopes down to the foreshore.

“The extension not only blanks out the rest of the hotel behind it, but creates a ‘wall’ of buildings onto St George’s Bay, with no terracing to soften the vertical volume”.

But the PA’s Design Advisory Committee, which advises the PA on design matters, has approved the design of the hotel extension.

The original permits for the hotel were issued on condition that parts of an existing boundary wall were dismantled to ensure public access to a 12m wide foreshore area.

“Whilst the boundary wall does not form part of this application, the condition of the previous permit which ensures that the part of the original terrace boundary is removed prior to the issuing of the final compliance certificate is still valid and being reiterated. Similarly, the public deed is to be reiterated to ensure that public access to the foreshore is secured.”

The development proposed through this application will be carried out on areas committed to existing hotel facilities.

In 2004 an enforcement order which is still listed as “pending” on the PA’s website was issued against an illegal extension. But according to the case officer report a permit issued in January 2013 “sanctions and covers the illegalities” subject to this enforcement notice.

The Paceville masterplan which was put on the backburner before the election had earmarked the site for the development of a  26 storey tower.

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