Ħaġar Qim resto raises concerns over light, noise and cars

Heritage Malta has expressed 'grave concern' on the reconstruction of the dilapidated Ħaġar Qim bar and restaurant just 100m off the World Heritage site

Heritage Malta has expressed grave concern on plans to turn the dilapidated Ħaġar Qim restaurant into a contemporary structure with extensive glazing, although photomontages show the site remaining practically invisible from the Mnajdra and Ħaġar Qim megalithic temples.

But the new application foresees a massive 450sq.m dining area, a 104sq.m roof terrace and a 700sq.m open area with benches for an outdoor dining area.

Heritage Malta, which administers the UNESCO world heritage site, said the extensive outdoor dining areas and rooftop restaurant will require significant lighting, impacting both the adjacent Natura 2000 site, as well as one of the very few remaining areas in the Maltese islands where the night sky can be observed. Heritage Malta also fears the “significant noise pollution” on the surrounding Natura 2000 site.

It also warned that a rooftop restaurant may lead to the installation of tented structures to result in yet another permanent structure, and therefore an increase in heights.

Another major concern is traffic impact, because the restaurant will require 35 parking spaces for clients and employees, none of which are provided on-site. Heritage Malta made it clear that the private restaurant will not be allowed to use the parking area of the archaeological park, which is already “fully used for most hours of the day.”

Heritage Malta said the additional traffic from the restaurant, as well as noise and light pollution, and the massing of the proposed building, will impact negatively on both the Natura 2000 site and views from Ħaġar Qim.

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage also expressed concern on the rooftop terrace as a dining area, saying any shading installations would have a negative impact on the temples, while external lighting would impact the setting of the temples in the dark hours. The SCH wants a lighting plan to ensure “no lighting pollution” is created in the heritage park.

While the applicant’s photomontages suggest the new development will be practically invisible from both Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra, the SCH wants photos from other vantage points to assess better its visual impact.

The applicant for the restaurant is Maria Theresa Mallia, whose family had won a court eviction of the former restaurant operators in 2019, closing a 14-year legal saga after the tenants opened the restaurant without the owners’ consent.