Kalkara valley under threat by development next to convent

Back in 2018 the Planning Authority had approved two new villas instead of dilapidated roofless old buildings along Triq Santa Liberta in Kalkara on the slope of the Kalkara valley, immediately adjacent to the protected Capuchin Convent

Back in 2018 the Planning Authority had approved two new villas instead of dilapidated roofless old buildings along Triq Santa Liberta in Kalkara on the slope of the Kalkara valley, immediately adjacent to the protected Capuchin Convent.

Now the new owners have presented plans to extend the build up footprint from 232sq.m of the two villas to 339sq.m development while adding two new swimming pools and decking areas and digging a basement level.

Back in 2018 the case officer had recommended the refusal of the development than proposed by PGB Limited after questioning the past residential use of the buildings.

But subsequently the developers had presented a notarial deed dating back to 1932 and the development was later approved by the Planning Commission.

The development was approved after being scaled down and limited to one storey to respect the “location and vistas provided by the hillside and proximity to the Capuchin priory”. A restoration method statement was also presented with the aim of respecting the building fabric of the historical rooms, which were to be integrated in the new development.

The old buildings, although in ruins, have historical value, and probably date to the eighteenth century. The Maltese and the British under Capt. Alexander Ball also probably used the buildings as a military fort during the blockade of the French within the cities.

A new application has now been presented by a new owner; Wigi Micallef foreseeing additions to two approved dwellings including; extensions at ground floor level, the addition of basements and the construction of swimming pools with deck area not exceeding 75sq.m and the extension of site boundaries.

The Superintendence for cultural heritage has already expressed “grave concern” that the proposal shall result in the intensification of development within an Area of High Landscape Value and the Kalkara Valley. The proposed development highly exceeds the site footprint approved in 2018 and encroaches on the existing natural and cultural landscape.

“Such development will negatively affect the views of the scheduled bastions as well as the adjacent Convent premises”.

The Superintendence has warned that due to the cultural and scientific value of the site, it is objecting to the proposed excavation of a basement level or the excavation of swimming pools.

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