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MALTATODAY 26 September 2021

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 26 SEPTEMBER 2021 NEWS Jobsplus Permit Number 357/2021 Jobsplus Permit Number 363/2021 Visit for the relevant job description. Apply: Closing Date: 4 th October 2021 WE ARE RECRUITING! SENIOR PROFESSIONAL OFFICER (LEGAL) PROFESSIONAL OFFICER DRAUGHTSPERSON JAMES DEBONO A Cultural Heritage report au- thored by leading archaeolo- gists has warned against any expansion of existing tourism facilities in Comino. Plans presented by the Hili subsidiary HV Hospitality fore- see a significant reduction in the footprint of the existing ho- tel at San Niklaw, and the resto- ration of 7,154sq.m of presently built land. But the masterplan foresees an extension of the bungalow village by 3,697sq.m, increasing the density in this part of the island. The serviced bungalows will be for sale, and prospective owners can opt to put their property in a rental pool, ser- viced by the hotel. "Any development should be limited to the footprint of its predecessors and not extended any further. Both Santa Marija Bay and San Niklaw Bay do not afford further encroachment," the report, which forms part of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the the Comi- no hotel and bungalow village, states. The EIA concludes that the impact on the cultural land- scape at the hotel site in San Niklaw is "neutral" because of the absence of cultural heritage features in the vicinity of the hotel. "However, given that the bun- galows will occupy a larger area, they will approach the Chapel and two Grade 2 features are proposed to be removed; the impact on the cultural land- scape at the village is considered to be of major significance." The report recommends pro- tection for various structures at Comino, including a mortuary slated for demolition to make way for an expansion of bunga- lows in Santa Marija bay. The room was used to house the hearse serving Comino's isola- tion hospital. The report, based on a site-surface survey, includes an inventory of cultural heritage features deserving protection. The authors say no further tracks should be added, and the present ones should "not be widened, since rubble walls and cultural features are found along them, given that these served as the main connecting network throughout the years." Furthermore any works on Comino should be treated like "works on an archaeological site", and should be monitored and supervised under the direc- tions of the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage. "No cul- tural feature should be lost". The one-room building has a large arched entrance, and is located 60m away from the po- lice station. The archaeologists insist the room merits a Grade 2 level of protection "not only because of its method of con- struction, but also because of the purpose it served and its link to the Isolation Hospital". Normally demolition for buildings accorded such pro- tection is precluded. The mortuary, which officially does not enjoy any protection, is presently used by the Maltese government as a storeroom for maintenance and waste man- agement work on the island. A Nissen hut, also meriting pro- tection, is also being proposed for demolition. The EIA also recommends protection to a number of structures which will not be im- pacted by the project but which presently lack any protection. These include the two police stations one at Santa Marija Bay built back in 1743, and one overlooking the channel be- tween Comino and Cominotto, now being used as a public con- venience and public showers. "It is a pity that the original in- scription on the lintel of one of the doorways has been covered with the public convenience sign," the authors note. The report recommends that the island of Comino as a whole should be considered as a unique cultural feature, apart from being designated as a Rural Conservation Area, dis- pelling the misconception that the island is poor in cultural heritage. "Cultural features vary from the Santa Marija tower, which is the main landmark of Comi- no visible from Malta and Gozo, to the rubble walls, quarrying, reservoirs and fields that have helped in the transformation of the landscape throughout the years while functioning in a remote landscape with limited resources." Even the smallest of features plays a role in the landscape of the island, for example the memorial to Salvu Said, who died in 1949 in a petard-relat- ed incident linked to the feast of the Sacred Heart, which is no longer celebrated in Comi- no. The EIA says the memorial "stands witness to the popular religious culture that requires the memory of the ones we lose to be commemorated." The report was authored by authored by archaeologists Kurt Balzan O'Dea, Daniel Borg, Marlene Borg, Joseph Calleja, and Ernest Vella from Archae- ology Services Co-operative Ltd. Comino mortuary worthy of protection at risk of demolition Archaeologists want Hili development on Comino to be limited to footprint of existing bungalows Plans presented by the Hili subsidiary HV Hospitality foresee an extension of the bungalow village by 3,697sq.m, increasing the density in this part of the island. The EIA is calling for protection of various cultural and physical features on Comino island, such as this former mortuary

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