Works on former ITS site in breach of permit conditions, Graffitti insists

The NGO said that demolition work was underway despite the a ‘Stop Works’ being issued by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage

Graffitti said that work on the former ITS site was in breach of permit conditions
Graffitti said that work on the former ITS site was in breach of permit conditions

Demolition work on the former ITS site is in breach of permit conditions and is being undertaken despite an order by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage for work to stop, Moviment Graffitti said. It is unclear whether the 'Stop Works' order is still in place, however the NGO said it was issued a month ago, on the 16 April.

Earlier on Thursday, Graffitti said that “rock-cutters had gone into action on the site of the scheduled St George’s Barracks despite their being no final Court decision on the matter”.

Graffitti noted that last week, a number of NGOs published plans, which had not been revealed in any of the studies commissioned by the developer, showing the presence of an “underground Cold War bunker” on the site. The NGOs appealed to the superintendence to issue an Emergency Conservation Order in relation to the bunker.

“It is not known what kind of monitoring is taking place to ensure that the excavations have no impact on the Grade 1 Scheduled Għar Ħarq Ħammiem,” Graffitti said.

The DB group, which is looking to develop the site into a 6-star hotel and residential complex, told the Times of Malta that it was “absolutely untrue” that the bunker was being demolished and that no works would be carried out on the bunker until the superintendence expresses its views.

The company added that works on the Grade II scheduled barracks were fully in line with regulations.

READ MORE: NGOs call for stop to DB Group works over 'undeclared' Cold War bunker

However, in reply to the DB group’s statement, Graffitti pointed out that the company had only referred to the bunker in its statement and had made no reference to the St George’s Barracks and Għar Ħarq Ħammiem.

“The situation is one where huge where huge rock-cutting machinery is onsite in an area with multiple cultural and sensitive features, without the proper and mandatory monitoring,” the NGO said.

It stressed that the issue was not a matter of the NGO’s opinion, but rather a fact highlighted by the superintendence of cultural heritage, a government agency, which “issued a stop works notice a few weeks ago”.

According to the NGO, in its correspondence with the developers, the superintendence said it had been informed that “ground disturbance works” had commenced at the site, without the necessary archaeological monitoring.

“As per permit condition 85A, all ground disturbance works are to be carried out under the supervision of an archaeological monitor. This is a serious breach of the conditions of the Superintendence owing to the presence of the military barracks scheduled at Grade 2 and Ħarq Ħammiem cave scheduled at Grade 1. Kindly note that the unauthorized works might have possibly caused damage to archaeological features since works are not being monitored by an archaeology monitor. Any features will be investigated in terms of the Cultural Heritage Act,” the superintendence said.

“The superintendence is issuing a stop works from its end and we recommend enforcement action from the Planning Authority in view of the breach in the permit condition.”

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