Gzira hotel ‘monstrosity’ meets council’s disfavour

Gzira mayor Conrad Borg Manché has expressed concern over plans for a 10-storey hotel on Sir William Reid Street in the vicinity of the Gzira parish church

Gzira mayor Conrad Borg Manché has expressed concern over plans for a 10-storey hotel on Sir William Reid Street in the vicinity of the Gzira parish church.

Borg Manché said the “monstrosity” was the first application of this kind on the street. “I believe the church should be respected and applications of such dimension should not be permitted within the church area.”

The entire council is unanimously opposing the development.

The site lies between three buffer zones for scheduled buildings, namely the Grade 1 Orpheum Theatre, the Grade 2 Villa Gzira and another Grade 2 house along the Rue d’Argens.

The property will also lie in Gzira’s design priority area, where heights, proportions, fenestration and architectural elements must be preserved and enhanced.

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage’s first assessment was that even though not having significant cultural heritage value, the building proposed for demolition was an integral part of the contribution to the current streetscape. “The existing dwelling forms part of a row of houses, most of which still retain their original façade and closed balconies, thus generating a sense of rhythm in this very significant and legible streetscape.”

And with traditional townhouses with relatively high individual floor heights flanking the proposed hotel, the 10-storey block would not be in line with floor heights for these houses, impacting on the streetscape.

The Superintendence insisted that the original façade, including the upper-floor cornice is retained. But it objected to the proposed height and is insisting that any development cannot exceed adjacent commitments. “This will help in preserving the integrity of the adjacent parish church as well as the surrounding scheduled buildings.”

The architect of the project, proposed by Stefan Deguara, asked for the suspension of the application to gain more time to revise plans.

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