So pedestrian: Stivala claims illegal lido deck enhances walkers-by experience

Developers’ boss Michael Stivala wants green light for illegal rooftop decking at Gżira lido, claiming it makes roof space accessible 'to a greater portion of pedestrians… to enjoy the amenities provided by the project'

Hotelier and developer Michael Stivala is attempting to gain a green light for an illegal deck he built atop his Gżira seafront lido by claiming it has given passers-by “a better street context”.

Stivala, who is president of the Malta Developers Association, thinks he can have his illegal roof-deck sanctioned by the Planning Authority because it allows “a greater portion of pedestrians and potential users… the space to enjoy the amenities provided by the project.”

He is even claiming – in a statement penned by his architect Edwin Mintoff – that his hotel lido ties in with the ‘Slow Streets Network’ initiative undertaken by the Local Councils Association “whereby pedestrians and passers-by are afforded a better street context”.

Originally, the permit for his Gżira lido, which includes a restaurant protruding into the Gżira Creek, was issued on condition that the roof was left unencumbered by new structures, as laid out in the 2018 parliamentary resolution transferring the site to Stivala and his hotel consortium.

The 2,300sq.m of reclaimed land for the lido was to service the nearby Bay View, Kenneduy Nova, Strand and Waterfront hotels.

In 2023, Stivala requested that his rooftop decking and the continuous glass railing around the roof perimeter, which are already being used by guests, get sanctioned. And yet, the original permit specifically ruled out any structures at roof level, even specifying that any services were to be built on a lower level.

Moreover, the land transferring deed itself, approved by a parliamentary resolution, specifically states that “no roof structures and services shall be placed on the roof” of the lido.

Stivala’s justification report, penned by architect Edwin Mintoff, claims the illegal rooftop decking now renders the area accessible to larger amounts of guests and gives the opportunity “to a greater portion of pedestrians and potential users of the space to enjoy the amenities provided by the project.”

According to Mintoff, the increased ability to house deckchairs, umbrellas and other furniture of the same nature means that “more of these pedestrians and passers-by are afforded amenities, especially during the hot summer months” and that this offers “a more vibrant and comfortable pedestrian environment.”

The developers want to ‘mitigate’ any visual impact with “vegetation housed within movable pots” lining the perimeter of the roof, only during the summer, to ensure the sunbeds and umbrellas are covered by foliage and not visible from the street.

Light pollution will be mitigated with mellow warm-white downlighting “to ensure safety of passage at night, whilst at the same time respecting the neighbouring context and third parties.”

Mintoff also claims the proposal is in line with the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development which advocates an “efficient use of land” adding that the development optimizes land utilisation. “The hotels in the area are investing millions in re-investment and upgrading” and “are utilising the limited land in question to its full potential to avoid the need to develop a new facility.”