ERA gives cold shoulder to proposed 26-storey hotel outside Regional Road tunnels

A proposed hotel just outside the Regional Road tunnels is in breach of the local plan that identifies the location as an open space, the environment authority says

A photo montage of how the proposed hotel will look just outside the Regional Road tunnels
A photo montage of how the proposed hotel will look just outside the Regional Road tunnels

The Environment and Resources Authority has shot down a proposed 26-storey hotel, insisting the development will be in breach of the local plan.

The proposed development is on a site just outside the Regional Road tunnels in the outskirts of St Julians, on the valley between San Ġwann and Swieqi.

But while ERA has argued that the hotel breaches the local plan designation of the site as an open space, the developer claims the development will decrease pressure on the St Julians centre.

ERA said the proposal will result in intensive development of “one of the few remaining green lungs in the area”.  

This emerges from an ERA report on the project development statement submitted by Tum Invest Ltd, the company behind the project, which includes visuals of the project.

Moreover, according to ERA the proposal is not in line with the established zoning for the site as a public open space.

This “basic concern” relating to the local plan zoning has to be addressed by the Planning Authority, before the commencement of an EIA that would study in greater detail the specific impacts of the project.

ERA has warned that the introduction of the proposed high-rise on the edge of the residential area will “contribute towards urban sprawl which would also increasingly dominate the underlying valley”.

A number of mature trees would also need to be uprooted to accommodate the proposed development.

An artist's impression of how the proposed hotel will look
An artist's impression of how the proposed hotel will look

According to submitted plans the proposal will have a gross floor area of circa 30,000sq.m and will span a height of 26 floors. The hotel would occupy a height of 21 floors, while five floors will be reserved for commercial space.
The entire 3,000sq.m site will be excavated to provide two levels of underground parking and an underground level for utilities related to hotel operations.

The hotel will have between 250 and 300 rooms for accommodation.

The site earmarked for the proposal is located within the development zone at the road junction of Triq Mikiel Anton Vassalli, c/w Triq il-Baltiku, in San Ġiljan and will be accessed through the road leading from the left hand side of Triq MA Vassalli at the north end of the Regional Road Tunnels.

The site used to form part of Wied Għomor valley side prior to being cut off by the road junction design. The site is identified by the 2006 North Harbour Local Plan as a “public open space” and is safeguarded by the provisions of policy NHRL 01 which prohibits the loss of urban public open spaces.

In the PDS, the developers claim that the project will “ease the congestion of other approved high rises in the town” while “creating a landmark in Malta with its shape and use.”  The project will also include “piazzas in different levels both public and private,” which will ease the volume of the building.

They also claim that if undeveloped the area will remain exposed to illegal dumping of wastes, by virtue of the concealed surroundings and would increase pressures for “more encroachment on the inner St Julians and Paceville nearly- exhausted hotel facilities”.

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