Lower Verdala redevelopment to include 85 new apartments

The new development will consist of a 5-star hotel with 40 guestrooms and 17 serviced apartments, as well as a private residential complex

The existing Verdala hotel eye sore will be demolished and will make way for a new hotel and apartment complex that will be two and eight metres lower than the present structure.

The new development, proposed by AX Holdings, will be a 5-star hotel with 40 guestrooms and 17 serviced apartments, as well as private residential complex spread over two blocks and including 85 apartments and four retail units.

The Virtù Heights Suites approved on the ridge 20 years ago will continue to operate as an annex to the hotel, comprising another 19 suites.

The new hotel located in a separate block will have eight levels of accommodation and will increase from three to seven storeys in height along Triq Ir- Rgħajja where it will reach a maximum height of 21 meters from the highest street level.

But at the rear - overlooking the ridge - the hotel will rise to eight storeys, reaching a maximum height of 26.60 metres from ground level.

The two apartment blocks will have a similar height as the hotel, one bordering Triq Santa Katerina rising to seven storeys (21 m) and other overlooking the ridge rising to 8 storeys (26 m).

According to an Environment Impact Assessment issued for public consultation the development “will have a smaller footprint, smaller floor area and lower height profile than the former Grand Hotel Verdala”.

The site of the proposed development covers an area of approximately 10,374 m2 and has a frontage on four streets – Triq Inguanez, Triq Santa Katarina, Triq San Bastjan, and Triq Ir-Rgħajja. 

42% of the site namely the area along the eastern and southern parameter is outside development zones. This area is enclosed within the existing boundary of the Grand Hotel Verdala complex, which is delineated by a wall.

Part of the area is also already built up, including the Virtù Heights Suites block which occupies 30% of the ODZ area.  

The EIA warns that in the absence of the redevelopment of the site, the existing building on site will continue to deteriorate, possibly resulting in, rodent activity, vandalism and other anti-social activity.  The EIA concludes that the major negative impacts of the project consist in geological impacts arising from the excavation this very sensitive site and changes to the site’s geomophological features.  But the EIA concludes that the project will represent a minor or moderate visual improvement over the present development.                                                               

The other negative impact is the increase in traffic noise emissions, arising from the increase in week day and Saturday traffic flows along Triq Inguanez and Triq Santa Katerina.

The hotel opened its doors in 1971. It was sold by the government in 1994 to developer Angelo Xuereb, who planned to redevelop it into a five-star resort with a golf course on the slopes below.  But the Planning Authority turned down attempts to build the golf course amid strong environmental opposition.  Applications to redevelop the hotel have been pending since 2004.

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