Five-storey building proposed 60 metres from Skorba Temples

Superintendence for Cultural Heritage objects due to impact on vistas from the World Heritage Site

The traditional building which may have to make way for the proposed five-storey apartment block
The traditional building which may have to make way for the proposed five-storey apartment block

An apartment block over five levels is being proposed at a distance of 60 metres from Skorba Temples – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and a Class A scheduled monument.

The application also proposes the total demolition of a vernacular building which includes timber beams, arches, slabs and large size stones which, according to the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, should be protected.

The application proposes the demolition of the existing structures and excavation works to make way for the construction of 11 basement garages and overlying residential units consisting of a groundfloor, three levels and a penthouse level.

“The existing building recalls the traditional rural character of the surroundings of Skorba Temples which are now being completely lost. This is one of the few remaining buildings that recall the original setting of the site when this was discovered and excavated, and the rural character of Zebbiegh.”.

The Superintendence has warned that the proposed  development will negatively impact on existing views and vistas from Skorba Temples and will also create blank party walls encouraging further vertical development in this sensitive area.

While noting that a building already exists on the footprint proposed for development, the Superintendence warned that works in the area may yet uncover cultural heritage features that may survive beneath the existing building. Rock-cutting will also, constitute an irreversible impact in this zone and is therefore unacceptable.

Although the Superintendence has asked for photomontages to assess the visual impact on Skorba, it also noted that “considering the proximity of the development to the site as well as the proposed height of the development, this will certainly have a considerable impact on Skorba Temples.”

The Superintendence has drawn the attention of the Planning Authority that as a state party to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention (1972), Malta is therefore obliged to safeguard the site and its surroundings on behalf of the international community.

“The proposed development would adversely affect the World Heritage Site and would, therefore, be in breach of Malta’s international obligations under the Convention.”

It also warned that the approval of the development will also create a precedent for similar developments that will result in the encroachment of Skorba Temples, jeopardising the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing.

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