Tunnel connecting proposed hotel to Kalanka bay could undermine cliff stability

An environmental impact assessment has proposed ommitting a tunnel from plans to connect a proposed hotel at Kalanka to the beach

james
James Debono
28 June 2017, 12:34pm
Comparison between the present view of the derelict hotel with that of the proposed new hotel
Comparison between the present view of the derelict hotel with that of the proposed new hotel
An Environmental Impact Assessment warns that the construction of a tunnel linking the proposed Kalanka hotel (formerly the Delimara Bay Hotel) and the beach could undermine the stability of the cliff and suggests that the negative geological impact of this development would be minimised if the proposal is dropped entirely.

“The omission of the tunnel and beach facilities would considerably mitigate the impact of the scheme in respect of the geomorphology of the area and the stability of the cliff,” the EIA says. 

The proposed 50m long tunnel, which would breach the cliff face, would have a width of 1.8m and a height of 2m and would be excavated in the cliff face. The project involves the extraction of 2,708 m3 of rock. 

According to the study sensitive excavation will be required to ensure that the stability of the cliff face isn’t jeopardised. 

“Nevertheless, and because of the proximity of the excavation to the cliff face and the breaching of the cliff face, the predicted impact of the tunnel and beach facilities on the stability of the cliff is considered to be of major negative significance”. 

Owing to the clayey nature of the rock to be excavated, shrinkage cracks may develop on the walls of the excavation as the rock is exposed. However, this is not expected to significantly jeopardise the stability of the excavation. 

The study suggests that to ensure the stability of the cliff face the excavation should not encroach within 2m-3m of the cliff line, and that excavations close to the cliff edge are undertaken using a drum excavator, or a quarry chainsaw, so as to disturb the rock as little as possible. 

Public facilities to service the bay, including a beach equipment store, first aid room, and ablution facilities are also proposed to be constructed within the excavated cliff. Access to the bay from the hotel via the lift and tunnel would allow for wheelchair access to the rocky beach. 

New hotel will have negative visual impact

The project proposes the replacement of the derelict Delimara Bay Hotel with a new boutique hotel comprising 13 luxury suites, three superior deluxe suites and one presidential suite. Proposed amenities include a lounge area, bar and restaurant, gymnasium, a spa, and an outdoor pool. The built up area will increase from 343m2 to 561m2. The existing concrete terracing to the west of the building will be replaced with landscaping. 

The hotel is being proposed to cater “the growing eco-tourism niche market in Malta” and as a way to increase tourism accommodation in the Marsaxlokk area. 

The EIA warns that the impact on the landscape character of Delimara is considered to be of major negative significance.

“Notwithstanding that there are existing structures on the site, the scheme will result in a large change in the rural / natural landscape with the introduction of a larger and taller hotel building with a modern form”. 

Moreover, the report warns about the impacts of more commercial activity in the area, which is currently remote and not highly frequented by people. “The physical interventions to the cliff, to provide the tunnel and beach facilities, and the increased activity on the rocky beach will result in a large change in the coastal landscape”. 

The Delimara Bay Hotel was built in the 1950s, and later, due to demand, another wing and an additional storey were built. Eventually, the hotel was converted into a bar and restaurant, which remained open until 1985. The building has since been in a state of disuse and is currently in disrepair.

Kenneth Abela, the sole shareholder of Delimara Bay Hotel Ltd, filed the application in 2014. The company was registered under another name in May 2013 and had its name changed in February 2015. In 2015, Abela told MaltaToday that he signed a promise-of-sale agreement for the derelict structure in June 2015, and signed the final contract to acquire the land on 15 August.

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