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MALTATODAY 10 July 2022

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8 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 10 JULY 2022 NEWS Marsaxlokk FC hostel, elderly home okayed by heritage watchdogs JAMES DEBONO A football club project for a four-storey high home for the elderly and hostel, have been cleared by the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, the Plan- ning Authority's design adviso- ry panel, and the Environment and Resources Authority. Set to visually dominate the area, Marsaxlokk FC's project will take place on land outside development zones that had been turned into a car park in 2016, and on a public garden. ERA said it would not object to the project provided that a proposed roof garden could support "large mature vegeta- tion" similar to that currently existing in the public garden, which will partly make way for the new development. And the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage – which had initially expressed concern on the massing of the proposed old people's home – has now backtracked, welcoming mi- nor changes made in the latest plans and photomontages. In issuing its clearance, the SCH noted "the improved design" which creates "a breakdown of the massing of the area", while recommending that the "façade is constructed in fair-faced ma- sonry". The PA's design commit- tee, which had initially ex- pressed some concern that the proposed structure is rather massive – particularly at the sea-front end of the project – welcomed the latest photo- montage and concluded that it is not "averse to the revised proposal strictly from a design point of view". The DAC had previously called for the façade to be fur- ther broken down, so as to re- duce the apparent mass, and to incorporate a lighter col- our-scheme. But the development still needs the approval of the So- cial Care Standards Authority, which is always consulted on applications for old people's homes. The old people's home will be situated across the road from a boatyard where maintenance work, including painting and spraying, is performed on large fishing boats. And it will also have windows overlooking the revamped Marsaxlokk football ground. But "performance indicators" issued by the SCSA oblige ser- vice providers to "promote a reduced noise environment within both communal and private areas" of old people's homes while stipulating that the design of such buildings should promote a "calm expe- rience". Moreover the lighting in such homes should be "domestic" in character. "You can imagine the light pollution from flood- lights and the noise from the game itself and from support- ers," one resident objecting to the development told Malta- Today. Fleur de Lys townhouses kept out of UCA could face the axe JAMES DEBONO AN application has been sub- mitted to demolish two charac- teristic townhouses along Triq Fleur de Lys in Birkirkara, two blocks off the Carmelite church. The applicant, a turnkey con- tractor, will not preserve the facade but replace it with a typ- ical blokc with aluminum ap- ertures – two maisonettes, six apartments over five storeys, one of which receded. If approved, the application would result in an extensive blank party wall overlooking neighbouring properties. Residents fear the application could have a domino effect on the entire row of townhous- es stretching along the road. Neighbours also expressed safety concerns on the pro- posed excavation of a garage level in close proximity to their old houses. The row of townhouses, char- acterised by traditional balco- nies, staircases and porches, dates back to the 1930s but enjoys the same level of pro- tection as any other building in the development zone because they were not part of the Ur- ban Conservation Area in the local plans of 2006. All Mal- tese towns and villages have protected village cores, but the concept was not extended to historical neighbourhoods like Fleur de Lys in Birkirkara and Qui-Si-Sana in Sliema. The decision not to designate Fleur de Lys as a UCA was ques- tioned by the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, when in 2021 it expressed "surprise and concern that the streetscape has not been given the protec- tion due to the area as an Ur- ban Conservation Area", over a request for a garage and change of apertures on another prop- erty in the same street. The SCH had described the row of early 20th century hous- es as one "with evident archi- tectural and aesthetic quali- ties" set within a streetscape of "evident significance and legi- bility". But development of elderly home next to a football pitch may be in breach of quality standards issued by Social Care Standards Authority The area as it stands now (top), and as proposed. The football ground will be at the centre of both the hostel and the old people's home

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