Sliema townhouse to make way for apartments

MEPA overturns case officer's negative recommendation after application had been twice refused in 2006

Contrary to the advice of its own case officer, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority has approved the internal demolition of a two-storey Sliema townhouse to make way for the construction of a maisonette at ground floor and three apartments, one on each floor, served with a lift.

The existing façade in Arturo Mercieca Street will be retained but two more storeys will be added on top of it.

In 2006 MEPA had twice refused a similar application because it objected to the internal demolition of the building, which includes a traditional staircase which will now be destroyed.

The house is built according to the traditional classical style typical of early 20th century developments.

The application was approved after the developers accepted to remove a penthouse level from the plans which was in breach of the local plan.

But despite this concession the development was still deemed by the Planning Directorate to be in breach of the structure plan.

According to the case officer the proposed building will be in breach of structure plan policies calling for the preservation of townscapes within urban conservation areas.  Moreover, according to the case officer report, an existing staircase should have been retained in the development, not obiliterated.

A fireplace will be retained and incorporated in the building.

The local plan approved in the area permits proposals for three-storey buildings and a penthouse in this street, which consists mainly of two-storey townhouses.

The development will create a shortfall of four parking spaces which will be compensated for by a monetary payment of €2,096.

The board justified overturning the negative recommendation by referring to guidelines which allow the board flexibility in assessing the demolition of buildings in Urban Conservation Areas.