GAP bound by 2007 agreement to restore Tigné military barracks

The agreement binds the developer to restore both the fort and glacis known as Fort Cambridge and the site of the ex military barracks.

Fort Cambridge developers are legally obliged to “effect the restoration” of the former military barracks building in Tigné, Sliema by April 2017 or “any other time stipulated in a future development permit”.

This is laid down in the agreement signed between the Lands Department and GAP Holdings in April 2007.  

The agreement binds the developer to restore both the fort and glacis known as Fort Cambridge and the site of the ex military barracks.

But despite this commitment to restore the barracks, the developers have undertaken no such works in the past seven years during which the site was left abandoned.

Residents in the area have even reported “a mysterious fire” and a general lack of maintenance has made it a haven for vermin.

It was only last month that plans were presented to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority proposing the erection of a 40-storey hotel and the “retention of the historic existing facades of the Fort Cambridge barracks” and the “demolition of the existing southwest facade and the ‘internal structures’.”  

A permit issued by MEPA in 2010, which obliged the developers to restore Fort Cambridge, did not impose any obligations with regard to the upkeep of the British era barracks.  The works on the fort and glacis were commenced recently, more than three years after the permit was issued.

When contacted in January GAP director Paul Attard claimed that the group was concentrating on the restoration works of Fort Cambridge – the pentagonal British-built fortress dating back to the 1880s, and the glacis. 

“As one would appreciate, restoration is very laborious work and it takes quite an amount of time and attention.” 

As regards the barracks, he pointed out that the building had been sealed.

Fort Cambridge was leased to GAP for 99 years, following a competitive tender, for Lm23.3 million (€54.274 million). 

A Fort Cambridge development brief approved in 2006, which remains legally binding, specifies that the existing building height of the ex military barracks is to be retained.

But MEPA has so far not replied MaltaToday’s questions on whether it intends to change the development brief to accommodate the 40-storey development, which has already been approved by the Malta Tourism Authority and was the subject of preliminary discussions with MEPA.

According to the brief, the barracks building “is to be retained due to its historical and architectural importance”, but internal alterations will be allowed. 

This building will act as a buffer between new higher development on the site and the surrounding residential blocks. No additional floors were to be allowed over this landmark building.