Letters: 21 June 2015

Demolition of Sunderland House

I refer to application PA 01025/15 for the “demolition of the well-known Sunderland House and construction of garage at semi-basement level and overlying apartments at, No 1, Veccia Wharf, St Paul’s Street, St Paul’s Bay “.

A number of complaints have been raised on Facebook with many people posting old photos of this house and recalling its history. During WW2 this house was the base for the northern Air-Sea Rescue launches of the RAF Marine Branch which together with its counterpart at Kalafrana saved 123 allied as well as 246 downed enemy airmen from the sea, often while under attack themselves.

As a resident in St Paul’s Bay, together with many others, we strongly object to demolishing the facade of this historical building for various reasons.  

First of all, this house is one of the first units built in the Veccia area round the beginning of the twentieth century and to date is still registered as house No 1. This house is very similar to a Palazzino with its unique style and is one of the few old houses left here!

During the past years MEPA had ordered the retention of various facades of old houses in many localities, even in St Paul’s Bay, and the projects were finalised  successfully.  Following this application on the MEPA website, it is stated that “Following a site inspection the panel could establish that the building does not have any historical or any architectural features worth preserving apart from a spiral staircase which could possibly be incorporated in the proposed development. The board also noted that the proposed development would be in line with the surrounding buildings. The panel finds no objection to this proposal” 

With all due respect – was this inspection carried out by the MEPA heritage advisers or by the board that at the end would grant the permit?  Was there any consultation with MEPA’s Heritage Planning Unit and with the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage? Or perhaps Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna or Din l-Art Helwa? Or is this MEPA board trying to jump the gun? Should this MEPA board be changed to stop it from demolishing the few remaining old houses in our locality? 

David Micallef , St Paul’s Bay

Starving Floriana’s businesses

A report on The Times entitled ‘Mayors back garden strip plan in Floriana’ included a suggestion by mayor Davina Sammut Hili that converting St Anne Street, Floriana, into a pedestrianised garden strip is a “good and innovative proposal” which would “benefit the locality”. Perhaps we should also be asking the Floriana mayor whether her plan to starve the Floriana business community is now being implemented.

Edward Torpiano, Floriana

Banning bird trapping

The declaration by EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella that the Maltese government cannot possibly reopen the trapping season seems to have been missed by the government.  After such a solemn declaration, one wonders why the government has not declared that bird trapping will be banned this year. Or is the Maltese government going to defy the European Union?

Renald Borg, Swieqi

Should we limit the proliferation of supermarkets?

The setting up of new supermarkets across Malta and Gozo will surely lead to the demise of the small retail outlet. It has already had a debilitating impact in Gozo where several groceries have had to close down. The authorities cannot continue to argue that the free market makes it next to impossible to freeze new licences for supermarkets.

Just in the same way that pharmacies are regulated, then one should really consider regulating supermarkets. Surely controlling the number of supermarkets is a sensible step that will be welcomed by all the players and consumers.

Jennifer Casha, Lija