PA approves demolition of building on site earmarked for 13-storey Xlendi hotel

Munxar mayor says demolition will be pretext for 13-storey hotel, but PA insists developers have right to demolish building without approval of future plans

The Planning Authority has approved the demolition of a building in Xlendi, on a site earmarked for the development of a massive 13-storey hotel in Xlendi by developer Joe Portelli.

The application approved is limited to the demolition of existing buildings located in Triq San Xmun and in Triq il-Punici and no excavations will be allowed at this stage as was initially proposed by the developers.

But the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) had called for the holistic assessment of both phase 1 and phase 2 of the project.

The Munxar local council – as well as eNGOs Flimkien Ghall Ambjent Ahjar and Moviment Graffitti – also objected to the splitting of the application.

Mayor Damien Christ Spiteri who intervened in the meeting after the vote on the project was already taken,  insisted that although no excavation would be allowed at this stage, the demolition of the buildings would still create a quarry due to the configuration of the site.  Residents also expressed concern that works in the area would endanger their homes built in the 1980s.

“It is irresponsible to approve the proposed application and move forward with the demolition without considering the future proposal for the excavated site,” Ruth Mercieca from Moviment Graffiti said.

FAA’s Astrid Vella described the process as flawed and reminded the board of the inconvenience caused by “craters” like that on the Gzira site of the Metropolis development.

“Leaving a hole in the area makes no sense,” she said. “It is clear why the developers are first applying for the demolition of the building before seeking approval for the hotel… This is a case of salami slicing of applications, which not be allowed.”

The existing buildings to be demolished are located in Triq San Xmun and in Triq il-Punici
The existing buildings to be demolished are located in Triq San Xmun and in Triq il-Punici

Commission chairman Claude Mallia insisted that the approval of the demolition did not entail a commitment on the future of the site. He said he understood the concern about the possible development and encouraged further discussion on the matter.

The second phase of the development, which still has to be approved, involves the construction of a 13-storey four-star hotel with 80 rooms and ancillary facilities.

The 846sq.m site is situated in a very narrow street within Xlendi, in the vicinity of the coastline.

Objectors had described the development as excessive and out of proportion with the surroundings and one which will intensify the development in an area already besieged by excessive development.

The site is situated in a narrow street within Xlendi, close to the coastline.

Objectors said a development of this nature in this area is excessive and would undoubtedly have a significant, adverse effect on the character of an area which merits protection.