Pembroke local council to vote against DB Group hotel development

Pembroke mayor Dean Hili said on Facebook that more of an effort should have been made by the developers to respect nearby neighbourhoods

The Planning Directorate has recommended the proposed development for approval
The Planning Directorate has recommended the proposed development for approval

Pembroke mayor Dean Hili said on Friday that he would be voting against the proposed Hard Rock Hotel development on the site of the former ITS site, citing the fact that the development design was incongruent with the locality.

Hili took to Facebook to explain his position following a four hour meeting preliminary board meeting ahead of the public meeting scheduled to take place on 20 September, which will decide whether or not the project will get the go ahead.

In his post, Hili raised a number of points, including the what he said was the fact that the developers had made no effort to respect surrounding localities.

He said that he will be voting against the application because the developers did not take into consideration the major effects the development will have on Pembroke residents, adding that it was evident that Pembroke would be the locality most affected by the development and its impacts.

DB Group’s 38-storey tower and a 17-storey hotel on the former site of the Institute of Tourism Studies proposes an overall gross floor area of 109,919 square meters, consisting of a 73 metres high hotel with an overall area of 51,417 sq.m., and a 141 metres high residential tower with 1,090 sq.m. retail area and 32,713 sq.m. residential area.  The development also includes a shopping mall with 18,753 sq.m. of commercial space.

READ MORE: Pembroke up in arms as residents march to protest DB group hotel development

Hili said that more effort should have been made to consider the cumulative effect of high rise buildings on areas including Paceville, Pembroke, St Julian’s and Swieqi.

Attending a preliminary board meeting about the development, Hili said that he was satisfied that some of the suggestions put forward by the local council had been incorporated in the design. These included:

  1. The elimination of Triq Pietru D’armenia from the original plan, in which the road would have served as a service road.
  2.  An increase in open spaces in the project
  3.  Monitoring the amount of vibrations during building to assure that Ghar Harq Mammiem, a site of ecological importance, is salvaged.

During the meeting, Hili said he had also brought up the issue of the tunnel, a mitigation measure suggested by Transport Malta in order to mitigate traffic pressures on the area resulting form the development. 

“In my honest opinion, the tunnel will not solve anything,” Hili said. “It seems as though northbound traffic has not been addressed and in the case the tunnel is made, and anything planned around it, drive up towards the Coast Road and enter to their locality from there. This is not a solution.”

Hili went on to say that the tunnel itself was not part of the proposed application, but a measure suggested from a study on what could materialize from the project. He said that it was also unclear whether drivers will be able to enter Paceville by avoiding Triq Sant’Andrija.

“We believe that if this project is to happen, it has to be done in a way that will help solve traffic problems in an area which is already congested.”

READ MORE: Pembroke-St George’s tunnel will produce 100,000 cubic metres of waste

Hili said that the council believed that were the tunnel to be constructed, it should require its own application.

“When you consider all this, even though some issues have been mitigated, it is clear that there has been a fundamental divergence of thought, and the position of the local council is a clear one,” Hili wrote. “We have brought up these points before, and it is because of this that we will be voting against the application in the next meeting on 20 September.”

The Swieqi and St Julian’s local councils had also opposed the project. The Planning Directorate, however, has recommended the approval of the project.