Heritage watchdog says no to Paola church café but in talks on way forward

Superintendence for Cultural Heritage objects to Paola church café proposal “as currently presented”

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage has expressed “notable concerns” on a proposed cafeteria atop the Paola church’s rooftop and is objecting to the proposal “as currently presented”.

In its feedback to the Planning Authority on the controversial café proposed as part of an interpretation centre at the parish church’s belfrey, the Superintendence announced that it had engaged in “advanced discussions” with the Paola church and the Kummissjoni Patrimonju Kulturali tal-Knisja (KPKK) to “agree on a way forward”.

Christ the King parish priest Andrea Camilleri faced public uproar after MaltaToday revealed plans for a restaurant and an outside seating and bar area on the roof between the two belfry towers.

Subsequently, new plans identifying the establishment as a cafeteria, and not a restaurant, were submitted. The new plans retain the outside tables but exclude any cooking on site.

Interviewed by this newspaper in April, the parish priest insisted that the proposed chairs and tables will not have any negative aesthetic impact because they were not permanent structures and would not even be visible from street level.

However, the parish priest made it clear that the whole aim of the application is to get a clear idea of what can be permitted or not on this site. “We will be abiding with what authorities like the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage will tell us,” he reassured parishioners.

Camilleri argued that the proposed cafeteria is just a small part of a project to make full use of six rooms atop each other in each belfry, set to include a museum and an interpretation centre. “The cafeteria is the least important aspect of this project,” he said while adding that this is only meant to recoup some of the enormous costs to maintain the church property.