Farsons presents sole objection to Fino high-rise

Superintendence concerned with impact on line of vision between Mdina and Valletta, calls for photomontages

Fino is prospecting two towers of 19- and 18-storeys, as well as an 11- and nine-storey block, and two three-storey buildings. The higher towers will be set on a platform on Triq San Gwakkin, therefore rising to 20 and 21 storeys, in an architectural design that will set them in the form of an upright boomerang
Fino is prospecting two towers of 19- and 18-storeys, as well as an 11- and nine-storey block, and two three-storey buildings. The higher towers will be set on a platform on Triq San Gwakkin, therefore rising to 20 and 21 storeys, in an architectural design that will set them in the form of an upright boomerang

The Farsons subsidiary Trident Estates plc – the developer of the Mriehel business park that will have seven five-storey blocks – has objected to a 19-storey high rise by the Fino Group, across the road in Mriehel.

Fino is prospecting two towers of 19-and-18-storeys, as well as an 11-and-nine-storey block, and two three-storey buildings. The higher towers will be set on a platform on Triq San Gwakkin, therefore rising to 20 and 21 storeys, in an architectural design that will set them in the form of an upright boomerang.

While the Farsons project aims to attract 1,500 office workers, Fino says its high-rise will provide offices for 8,000.

Trident Estates CEO Charles Xuereb described Fino’s proposed towers as “oversize and out of scale and definitely not compatible with the neighbourhood” and expressed concern that the Grade 2 scheduled OId Brewhouse and the Portico, located just across the street, “will be dwarfed and overshadowed”.

He also claimed that the brewery would be hidden, completely shaded in the mornings, and its appearance would be “severely compromised by its juxtaposition with the incongruous bulk of the proposed high-rise from any other angle”, apart from the towers’ aerofoil shapes creating “abnormal wind effects on the surroundings”.

Xuereb lambasted the project for not incorporating “a significant and well-designed public open space”, noting the proposed open spaces are “simply the left-over space on the roof of the podium, between the tower blocks.”

Xuereb also said the Fino project goes against existing policies limiting high-rise development to low-lying areas, broadly interpreted to be below the 25m contour. “The proposal is actually on a ridge on the 50m contour. Consequently, the towers will be visually prominent, with significant impacts on short and long-distance views.”

Farsons presented the sole objection to the project from the general public, in what could well be seen an indication of the absence of local communities living next to the project.

But in its preliminary assessment of the proposed high-rise, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage noted Fino project’s impact in terms of overall heights and volumes along the Valletta-Mdina visual link.

To better assess its visual impact, the Superintendence has asked for photomontages of short-distance views which include Wignacourt Aqueduct and the Farsons brewery, and long-distance views from Valletta and Mdina.

The Farsons project was approved in December 2017 after the presentation of a masterplan, which binds the company not to carry out piecemeal additions in the future. Previously the PA had indicated its intention to refuse the project in the absence of a masterplan.

The historical brewhouse will be restored and converted into a visitor centre experience, which will also include ancillary retail outlets. The seven five-storey blocks will be surrounded by extensive gardens over half of the site.

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