Modernist villa overlooking protected St Paul’s Bay coastline under threat

Five-storey block could take place of ‘pleasant and modernist’ villa

A planning application has been presented seeking to demolish an existing two-storey modernist villa in Sqaq tax-Xama in St Paul’s Bay, built before 1968.

The applicants want to build a five-storey block of flats, with basement parking garage and the construction of two swimming pools at ground floor and also on the roof.

The existing villa is situated adjacent to coastal cliffs in an area protected as an Area of Ecological Importance.

It is also immediately adjacent to the Urban Conservation Area (UCA) of St Paul’s Bay and an Area of High Landscape Value (AHLV). The villa is also located 50m from Palazzo Pescatore, scheduled by the Planning Authority at Grade 2.

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage is objecting to the development, saying that it is “incongruous with the surrounding area”, and warning that the proposed building will be highly “conspicuous even from long distance views”.  The SCH called for more detailed images of the existing villa, noting that it is constructed “in a pleasant design and modernist idiom.”

The Environment and Resources Authority described the proposed development as “not acceptable”, warning that excavation works could have a direct impact on the coastal cliffs. The ERA has called for a geotechnical study to evaluate the works and provide a technical report determining the loading capacity of the proposed building on the terrain, to confirm its stability once development is ready.

While not excluding the redevelopment of the site, ERA called for a revision of plans and design, which is less visually intrusive and more sensitive to its surroundings.