Planning Authority approves Lapsi View guest house

The iconic restaurant at Għar Lapsi known as Ta’ Rita is set to transform into a guesthouse  

An architectural design of the approved guesthouse
An architectural design of the approved guesthouse

The Planning Authority Board has unanimously approved the transformation of the iconic Lapsi View restaurant, popularly known as Ta’ Rita, into a guesthouse. 

The new guest house which will also include a restaurant, will be slightly higher but substantially bulkier at first floor level than the existing building which will be demolished and have its blue colour replaced by a more “earthy” colour. 

The permit was issued after a five-year saga, which saw a constant revision of plans to ensure that the new building fits in the surrounding landscape. 

The most significant change over the present situation is the construction of a first-floor level, with the uppermost level proposed at a 4.25m setback throughout the whole width of the building façade. 

In contrast, presently the existing first floor level only covers a small part of the building and varies from a 4.8m setback to a 10.8m setback. The new building will be 0.6 meters higher than the highest point of the existing building but substantially bulkier. 

NGO representative Annick Bonello who ultimately voted in favour of the development, reiterated concerns expressed by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage on the demolition of the existing modernist building. She also called for revisions to the design including a roof garden to ensure that the building blends well with surroundings. 

READ ALSO: Ta’ Rita restaurant in Għar Lapsi set to change into guesthouse

Architect Edwin Mintoff replied that the redevelopment project respects the character of the area and the project was subjected to various changes proposed by ERA and the SCH. 

“We tried our best to respect the proportions of this iconic building,” Mintoff said.  

He also said that while he had nothing against a roof garden, blending greenery with the surrounding garigue environment may pose difficulties. 

Board chairman Vince Cassar also suggested minor changes, deemed acceptable by Mintoff, to the design of the windows to respect the proportions of the existing buildings. 

The new structure will house an underground parking area at basement level, a multi-purpose hall and a marine leisure shop at the semi-basement level, a restaurant at the ground floor level and a guesthouse spanning on both the ground floor and first floor level. 

The proposal will have a similar architectural design and massing as that of the existing structure. 

The Environment and Resources Authority, which had reservation on previous plans, has approved the latest plans which had substantially downscaled the massing of the building. 

But the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage was still insisting on the retention of the existing Modernist façade characterised by the two converging staircases and symmetrical fenestration and objected to the increase in the building’s massing. 

Despite the SCH’s objection to the elimination of the existing façade, the case officer described the replacement building as a “modernized version of the existing” which retains “the most notable elements”. 

One feature that will be replaced is the blue rendering for the façade, to be substituted with a more earthy tone colour, with the case officer concluding that this would result in a 

more suitable finish, blending further into the surrounding open spaces and landscape and mitigating its visual impact.