Permit renewal request for Kalkara apartments bemoaned by residents

A short distance from the Kalkara church, an open green space is being proposed for the construction of 88 apartments and 93 garages on the slope, overlooking the harbour

The green area (indicated by the red arrow) proposed for the Kalkara apartments
The green area (indicated by the red arrow) proposed for the Kalkara apartments

An open green space a short distance from the Kalkara church is still being proposed for the construction of 88 apartments and 93 garages on the Kalkara slope overlooking the harbour.

The developers were awarded their permit in 2012, but no development has yet taken place. Applicant Lawrence Fino has now presented an application to renew the permit to ensure the original permit does not expire.

Although endorsed by the Planning Authority’s internal heritage watchdogs, the project will still have a marked impact on Kalkara views from Birgu and Bighi. Only two board members, Sandra Magro and Franco Montesin – both no longer PA board members – had voted against the application in 2012.

The site just a few metres from the parish church, bounding an extensive stretch of undeveloped land of some 6,500 square metres, but whose development is foreseen by the Grand Harbour Local Plan.

The application was originally presented in 2009 and approved three years later. It had been preceded by an outline permit issued in 2008, which had already committed the area for residential development. Moreover, the Town Planning Scheme of 1962 had already allocated the site for terraced development and the site was retained in the development zone in subsequent plans. 

But residents and the Kalkara local council had raised serious objections because of flood-water problems in the area, which they said would be exacerbated by the big development. To address these concerns a number of reservoirs were included in the development.

Protests organised by the Save Kalkara Valley Front against development on a substantial part of the Kalkara valley took place in 2002 and 2003.

Then in 2012, the PA’s heritage planning unit and heritage advisory committee concluded that although located within an ‘area of high landscape value’ due to the harbour fortifications, the development would not cause any additional visual impact, since the views of the fortifications had already been compromised by existing buildings.

Additionally, the design was deemed similar to traditional dwellings in the area.

In the absence of changes to policy or the issue of conservation orders, renewal permits are normally approved automatically. 

Photomontage of development as seen from Bighi.
Photomontage of development as seen from Bighi.

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