Redesigned Marsaxlokk hotel still jars with traditional village

Less glass, more arches: hoteliers propose softer look for 125-room hotel at waterfront’s edge in Marsaxlokk

The hotel will replace the Hunters’ Tower restaurant, at a point that lies outside development zones in the vicinity of il-Magħluq marshland
The hotel will replace the Hunters’ Tower restaurant, at a point that lies outside development zones in the vicinity of il-Magħluq marshland

Design changes for a 125-room hotel in Marsaxlokk will still undermine the character of the traditional fishing village, Environment and Resources Authority has warned.

The hotel will replace the Hunters’ Tower restaurant, at a point that lies outside development zones in the vicinity of il-Magħluq marshland.

Architects Bencini & Associates made a number of changes to the proposed building through the use of arches and materials deemed more congruent with the surrounding building fabric – the earlier design made a more extensive use of glass.

The latest plans were presented following reservations from the PA’s design advisory council, which advises the Planning Authority on design issues: it had said it was mainly concerned with “the massing of the proposal” and recommended that the project be more in “keeping with the vernacular context of the Marsaxlokk seafront”.

The developers’ own consultants in the updated environment impact assessment have noted that the changes are “welcome” but not “significant” and that the “impacts resulting from the mass of the building are still evident”.

Architects have now proposed a softer look to the hotel
Architects have now proposed a softer look to the hotel

In its own final report on the hotel, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) still contends that together with other modern developments in the area the new hotel “will undermine the traditional elements that distinguish the character of the Marsaxlokk bay area from other areas in the Maltese Islands.”

Despite these negative impacts, the latest design was considered “more sympathetic to the traditional buildings lining the seafront in the immediate vicinity of the site and which fall within the Urban Conservation area of Marsaxlokk”.

But the ERA said that the rear and side elevations “will intrude upon and jar with the surrounding rural landscape”.

Despite its concerns the ERA is not objecting to the development, because it does not impinge negatively on the nearby marshland of il-Maghluq.

Environmental impact studies have concluded that the hotel is unlikely to have environmentally significant impacts on the marshland and will not result in the loss of EU-protected habitats.

The ERA proposed a number of conditions that include limits on excavation, as well as on noise and light emissions.

The hotel proposal was the result of a development brief for the Marsaxlokk inner harbour proposed back in September 2013, which sets out the parameters for the area’s regeneration to improve tourism while complementing its environmental value.

In 1998 the PA rejected an application for a three-storey hotel on the site, proposed by former Labour MP John Dalli.

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