Heritage watchdog green-lights six storeys on Sliema’s Britannia flats

Proposed five floors and a penthouse on Britannia Flats given blessing of the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage after its topmost two storeys were receded

The proposed construction of five floors and a penthouse on Britannia Flats has been given the blessing of the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage after its topmost two storeys were receded.

Fafner Limited will turn the standalone, early-20th century on Tower Road and Amery Street, into a 10-storey block.

The Superintendence had dubbed the proposed design unacceptable back in March 2022 because the extension was incompatible with the existing building. While not excluding new, modern storeys, the SCH insisted that the proposed extension should have the same “building rhythm” of the existing building.

But the SCH dropped its objection following a 3D model presentation of the development, reflecting changes to plans to step down the back of the building overlooking the Urban Conservation Area. And a first new floor above the existing building was redesigned on the seaward side to soften the transition from the existing traditional building to the more contemporary additions.

The Planning Authority has yet to take a final decision on the development but the SCH’s objection was a major obstacle for its approval.

Brittania Flats is one of the few traditional buildings untouched by the transformation of Tower Road in the 1980s and early 1990s, when traditional townhouses were knocked down to make way for eight-storey tower blocks.

Residents objecting to the development have expressed concerned by the over shadowing on neighbouring streets particularly the very narrow Triq Luzju. Several pointed out that the development will impinge upon the privacy of residents in Triq Luzju and warned that the proposed height is in breach of sanitary rules.

In fact, four years ago a case officer had deemed a previous application proposing additional floors on half the building’s roof to be in breach of sanitary regulations which state that in streets or open spaces which are wider than 3m but less than or equal to 15m, the overall height of the facade should not exceed three times the width of the street. In this regard, according the case officer the overall building height on Trejqet Luzju, indicated to be 3.88m wide, is not to exceed 11.64m. The application was later withdrawn.