Pietà 10-storey hotel proposal turned down by Planning Authority

PA board rejects application for Pietà hotel next to Zammitello Gardens

A proposal for a 10-storey hotel in Pietà has been turned down by the Planning Authority board
A proposal for a 10-storey hotel in Pietà has been turned down by the Planning Authority board

The Planning Authority’s board has turned down an application for a 10-storey 118 room hotel on Pietà’s seafront.

All PA board members voted against the proposal, which would have seen the hotel built next to Giardino Zamitello, visually dominating the garden’s views of the harbour town from Msida creek and Valleta, challenging the visual dominance of St Luke’s Hospital and blocking views of the nearby Villa Frére gardens,

Underlining the urgency of the threat to heritage represented by the proposed development, cultural superintendent Joe Magro Conti took the unprecedented step of addressing board members before the decision was taken on Thursday. Normally the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage limits itself to formal  written recommendations.

Magro Conti firmly objected to the development due to its impact on surrounding historical buildings and gardens.

“We are in favour of sustainable development which does not harm the historical landscape... the mass of this project is exaggerated, it is out of scale with the neighbouring character and context. In this case the balance between cultural protection and development has not been reached,” he said.

READ ALSO | Fate of Zammittello gardens in Pietà in Planning Authority board’s hands

The meeting was also addressed by Heritage Malta CEO Noel Zammit, who objected to the development as it would impinge on plans for a heritage trail including Villa Frére and Villa Guardamangia. Pietà mayor Karl Tanti also called for a refusal.

Project Architect Keith Cole insisted that the development would regenerate the degraded state of the area. He also insisted that the gardens would be mostly restored and that the design respected the contours of the Pietà promontory.  ]

Cole pointed out that the proposed hotelwas similar in height to the nearby building occupied by auditor firm KPMG. He warned that, in absence of private investment, the garden would continue to deteriorate.  “Culture needs investment,” Cole said.

Speaking on behalf of friends of Villa Frére, the Pietà local council and architest Edward Said gave a detailed presentation on the historical significance of Zammitello Gardens.

“Part of the garden will be excavated and build over and this is not acceptable,” Said said.

Joanna Spiteri Staines from NGO Din l-art Ħelwa proposed a master plan for the Pietà waterfront.

Environment and Resources Authority chairman Victor Axiak described the project as a ‘Sliemafication’ of Pietà. PA board chairman Vince Cassar also objected to the  project.

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