Villa Leoni hotel set for refusal, but garden lacks protection

Despite the Planning Authority giving legal protection to the Villa Leoni home in St Julian’s in 1994, it failed to schedule its gardens. Despite this omission, the PA website still shows the garden as being protected

When the Planning Authority gave legal protection to the Villa Leoni home in St Julian’s in 1994, it failed to schedule its gardens.

Despite this omission the PA website still shows the garden as being protected, a detail emerging from a case officer’s report objecting to a hotel development that eradicate Villa Leoni’s garden.

The application seeks to add four receded floors on the villa.

More than 900 objections have been presented against the application. A final decision will be taken by the Planning Board
on 6 June.

Villa Leoni is located inside the Urban Conservation Area of St Julian’s and has two frontages on Triq Il-Kbira, and Telghet Birkirkara. The property is a distinguished 19th century house, with a formal garden extending at the rear of the building, inside the UCA. According to the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, both the villa and its garden have historical and architectural value.

But while it was originally believed that the entire property, including the garden, was scheduled, it emerged that only the façade of the villa is protected by law as a Grade 2 monument. The PA’s case officer referred to a discrepancy between what was officially scheduled in 1994 and what has been plotted out on the authority’s maps.

Despite the absence of legal protection the case officer still deemed the development of the garden as being in breach of existing policies protecting the integrity of  green enclaves and the character and amenity of urban areas.

A permit was already issued in 2009 for the construction of an apartment block comprising four apartments and two penthouses on part of the site.

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