Owners of abandoned Mellieha hotel fight demolition order

The ruins of the Festival Hotel is a buffer zone for an Area of Ecological Importance, with the derelict building said to be 'causing injury to amenity'

Ruins of the derelict Festival Hotel are ‘injury to amenity’ the PA said, but owners Mizzi Group want 23 villas in  the protected nature site
Ruins of the derelict Festival Hotel are ‘injury to amenity’ the PA said, but owners Mizzi Group want 23 villas in the protected nature site

The Planning Authority has served the owners of an abandoned hotel in Mellieha with an enforcement order for leaving the site in a derelict state.

The ruins of the Festival Hotel are located in the Sdieri area, between the Red Tower and the boathouses in Mellieha. Now abandoned, the building has been defaced by graffiti.

The area is a buffer zone for an Area of Ecological Importance, with the derelict building said to be “causing injury to amenity.”

The PA has invoked a legal clause that allows executive chairman Johann Buttigieg, as chair of the PA’s executive council, to serve an enforcement notice on the owners of land where the amenity of the area is injured “by the appearance or structural condition of any building” located on it.

According to a PA spokesperson the authority, through its enforcement notice, is requesting owners to submit a “method statement” to explain how the injury to amenity “will be mitigated”.

The enforcement order was issued both against the Lands Authority and Hubbalit Developments Limited – a company owned by the Mizzi Group whose directors include Brian Mizzi, Maurice Mizzi and Christopher Mizzi.

Hubbalit Developments has already appealed against the enforcement notice. Over the past two years the developers showed a renewed interest in an application presented back in 1994, to demolish the ruins of the old hotel and build a new one.

The latest plans submitted on 30 April, a month before the PA enforcement was issued, consist of a masterplan for the construction of 23 villas.

Plans submitted last year – during the electoral campaign – foresaw a 1,600sq.m spa and hydrotherapy centre, 12 apartments with pools, a physical rehabilitation centre, bar and restaurant, and conference room.

The North West Local Plan which regulates development in the area states that the redevelopment of existing tourist accommodation facilities in rural areas, will only be considered in very exceptional cases where the new proposal is for a hotel which has very high design quality and considerably improves the rural or coastal landscape.

But “even in such rare cases, the increase in the number of beds or the intensification of the existing uses will not normally be favourably considered”.

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