Eight townhouses in Ħamrun could make way for five-storey block

The proposed development will incorporate the existing façade of the townhouses while adding three floors on top, in an area of Hamrun designated as a Design Priority Area

A proposal is being made to replace a row of eight traditional early 20th-century townhouses with a new five-storey apartment block along Triq Villambrosa in Hamrun.

The site is a short distance from the St Gaetan parish church.

These townhouses, characterised by traditional style and proportions, line the street which typically features two or three-storey high townhouses.

The proposed development, situated in a street known for its traditional streetscape, seeks to preserve the existing facade while introducing blank party walls on either side. Although the site, which includes Johns Garage, was not initially designated as part of Hamrun’s urban conservation area in the 2006 local plans, the area was marked as a ‘design priority area’ where architectural elements and proportions must be preserved and enhanced.

The application proposes the total internal demolition of the existing eight townhouses, excavation for a basement level, and construction of five additional floors to accommodate 19 apartments and an office space.

However, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage (SCH) has expressed concerns about the proposed development, citing the well-preserved streetscape and cultural heritage value of the houses.

Nevertheless, the SCH has indicated a possibility for redevelopment if one of the proposed floors is eliminated. They suggest that any development in the area should adhere to a maximum of three full floors and an overlying penthouse level to avoid setting a precedent for excessive vertical development in the Design Priority Area.

Din l-Art Helwa opposes the development, arguing that it does not harmonise with the character and distinctiveness of the traditional streetscape, characterised by low-lying buildings.

A similar development, involving the addition of three floors to a neighbouring townhouse, was approved by the Planning Authority a year ago despite the SCH’s recommendation to limit the development to three full floors and a receded level.

However, this decision is currently under appeal by Din l-Art Helwa.

Din l-Art Helwa contends that the approval is in breach of the local plan in which building heights are limited to three floors and possibly an additional receded floor.