‘Mutilation’ of Mrabat stately home set for approval

A stately home in Sliema is one step nearer to get an additional storey right on top, and a six-storey block of apartments on its grounds after the Planning Directorate recommended the approval of the application presented on behalf of the Bilom Group

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James Debono
11 January 2017, 7:40am
The Sliema Heritage Society described the project as the 'mutilation of a historical building'
The Sliema Heritage Society described the project as the 'mutilation of a historical building'
The Cloisters, a stately home on Mrabat Road in Sliema, is one step nearer to get an additional storey right on top, and a six-storey block of apartments on its grounds.

This is because the Planning Directorate is now recommending the approval of the application presented by Darren Desira on behalf of the Bilom Group. 

The apartment block will rise 21 metres above Triq Bonavita and Triq is-Sorijiet near the Convent of the Sacred Heart, at the back of the scheduled Grade 2 building. 

Last month MaltaToday reported that the Cloisters, a scheduled palazzo, is on sale for €3.7 million on a property website which states – incorrectly – that “the magnificent palazzo” comes with “permits approved for a 34-room boutique hotel”, apart from plans for a restaurant, reception and parking. In reality the Planning Authority decision, by its Environment Planning Commission, will be taken on Friday. 

The Sliema Heritage Society described the project as the “mutilation of a historical building” and the “destruction of an extensive garden” which would set a precedent for the destruction of hundreds of similar properties.

The apartment block will rise 21 metres above Triq Bonavita and Triq is-Sorijiet at the back of the scheduled Grade 2 building
The apartment block will rise 21 metres above Triq Bonavita and Triq is-Sorijiet at the back of the scheduled Grade 2 building
The terraced development, which reaches up to six storeys, will front Triq Bonaventura and Triq is-Sorijiet. The case officer’s report refers to the endorsement of the latest designs by both the Design Advisory Committee and the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage. The latest plans show the additional storey added on to the historical building built in a more traditional style.

The Sliema local council had complained that no photos of the property had been presented, adding that “it is very likely that architectural elements of heritage value possibly worthy of retention might be found within this building”. 

But the case officer insisted that since the developers have applied for an ‘outline permit’ – a preliminary permit to set the parameters of the development – photographic details of the interior of the building and its grounds are not required at this stage. 

“Internal photos were not provided at this stage since this is an outline application where with regard to the scheduled property only the principle of a vertical addition to such building was being assessed.”

This means that the PA would already have committed the area for development before assessing these details.

The case officer contends that the development is in line with policies encouraging the regeneration and rehabilitation of historical buildings and that the development on the gardens will be stepped down, thus following policy.

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