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MALTATODAY 3 October 2021

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 3 OCTOBER 2021 8 NEWS C A R E E R O P P O R T U N I T Y The Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services is seeking to recruit a Customer Rela ons Officer to join its team. The candidate will be answering queries of a financial services nature and will also be dealing with minor cases aiming for their early resolu on. Background and/or experience in financial services would be helpful. Further informa on about this vacancy is available at Applicants are kindly requested to submit a covering le er and a CV by registered post or by hand to: Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services Chairman - Selec on Board First Floor, St Calcedonius Square Floriana FRN1530 Closing date for applica ons is 12 October 2021. Shortlisted candidates will be required to a end for an interview by the Selec on Board and possibly to a second interview, as necessary. Heritage watchdog objects to 11-storey hotel abutting Villa Bonici gardens JAMES DEBONO THE Superintendence for Cultur- al Heritage has expressed "grave concern" at the intensity of de- velopment proposed by hotelier Michael Stivala, on a site between Moroni and Parisio streets which abuts the scheduled gardens of Villa Bonici, and in the immedi- ate vicinity of the historic Tele- phone Exchange, also scheduled at Grade 2. Stivala wants to demolish a di- lapidated vernacular building that separates the lower and higher part of Parisio street, to erect a ho- tel over 11 floors, which includes a receded top-floor restaurant and pool deck, and three underground floors for a spa and parking area. But the cultural heritage watch- dog warned that the develop- ment's "considerable heights and volumes" will be overbearing on the scheduled gardens of Villa Bonici. The Superintendence called for the lowering of the overall height of the hotel and adequate terrac- ing away from the scheduled gar- dens. This SCH is also concerned by the demolition of the vernacular building, which dates back to the early 20th century and was con- structed using traditional mate- rials and techniques. Although it still has to assess the value of the building, "such demolition would generally not be viewed favoura- bly by the Superintendence." The proposed hotel includes a tract of land next to the vernacu- lar building, which has been partly excavated without a permit. Last year, Stivala applied to sanction rock excavation on this site and to use it as a temporary parking facility. But the Superintendence had already objected to this sanction- ing, noting that the unauthor- ised clearing and excavation had resulted in the destruction of a walled garden behind the vernac- ular building, between the upper and lower part of Parisio Street. "These works included the dem- olition and clearing of masonry structures within this garden. The loss of this garden and structures has severely impacted the legibil- ity and context of this old Sliema house, impacting on its cultural heritage values." Moreover, the excavations and rock-cutting were carried out in an unacceptable manner, "flush against the scheduled garden wall, threatening is structural stability and causing visible material dam- age to its foundations." The Superintendence noted "with grave concern" that the ho- tel application was now being pre- sented on the same site of these unauthorised works. Since its concerns on the un- authorised works remain unre- solved, the SCH said the current application for the hotel develop- ment is prejudicial to the previous application to sanction the works. The Planning Authority received over 50 objections from residents. Some of the residents complained that they have been living "in a perpetual building site for the past 20 years", with construction ac- tivity "increasing drastically since 2013". They complained of the "neg- ative psychological effects" re- sulting from residing "in such a squalid neighbourhood", charac- terised by "incessant noise from before sunrise till sunset, dust em- anating continuously which man- ages to pass through sealed win- dows to cover indoor areas with a fine layer of dust." As proposed, the hotel will be built over a 957sq.m area occu- pied by the old building and field, in the vicinity of the protected Vil- la Bonici site. Apart from the Waterfront Ho- tel, which faces the Strand, the area is mainly residential and in- habited by elderly people who are alarmed by the scale of exca- vations required by the develop- ment. In 2017, the PA paved the way for the development by approving an application by Stivala himself, to remove a schemed stairway that had been planned to link the upper and lower parts of Parisio Street, and rezone the area as a residential one. Instead of the public stairway, which was never constructed, Stivala proposed an uncovered 2m-wide passageway with a water culvert. The 50m pedestrian pas- sage will be constructed at Stiva- la's expense to serve as a "pedestri- an link between Triq Moroni and Triq Parisio". The schemed stairway dates back to 1961, and replicated in the Temporary Provision Schemes of 1989 and in the 2006 North Harbour Local Plan. In 2016 the PA rejected a planning control application to do away with the schemed stairway, and include the site as part of the residential area. After winning a court case on the ownership of the land in question, Stivala presented a new zoning application, which was approved. Superintendence for Cultural Heritage decries unauthorized works carried out in 2019 on a garden behind old farmhouse in Parisio Street

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