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MALTATODAY 21 August 2022

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NEWS 12 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 21 AUGUST 2022 JAMES DEBONO HERITAGE NGO Din l-Art Helwa and Moviment Graffitti are objecting to a zoning appli- cation presented by the Fino Group proposing three "mixed use" blocks of five and six floors, on the 3,870sq.m area that en- velopes the historical Australia Hall in Pembroke. In planning jargon, mixed-use development normally includes a combination of residential, of- fice and retail development. The latest plans foresee devel- opment over some 12,000sq.m in total floor area, that is, the en- tire floor area of the three mas- sive blocks and the restoration of Australia Hall itself. Some 2,400sq.m of the total 6,331sq.m site will be retained as open pub- lic space. Din l-Art Helwa said it was seriously concerned about the impact of the proposed devel- opment around Australia Hall in Pembroke due to its impact on the urban landscape. "The jar- ring blocks will spoil vistas from this historical property, alienat- ing the historical property from its cultural landscape." According to the heritage NGO the imposing volumes of the new development will overwhelm the existing structure. The NGO also lamented that the visual provided, consisting of just line drawings, was insufficient to grasp the overall impact of com- mitting the surrounding sites to such an extensive proposal. Moviment Graffitti warned that the approval of this applica- tion will see "the degradation of a cultural and historical area, as well as the urban landscape sur- rounding it". Moreoever it will diminish the Grade 2 scheduled building's status and become a "grave eye- sore, while also setting a danger- ous precedent for future similar applications" in other historical areas. Graffitti refered to the SPED policy, stating that devel- opment within historic sites is to be carried out in such a manner so as to ensure that the historic sites' skyline is not adversely af- fected. Graffitti is also calling on the PA to ensure that the applica- tion is processed according to a planning circular issued in 2020 regulating developments next to listed buildings. In this way the developers will have to present photomontages of the develop- ment at the zoning stage, which would set the height and use of the proposed buildings before a full planning application is presented. This would avoid a situation where the PA ends up zoning the area on the basis of line drawings, and only demand photomontages when a planning application is presented, after the PA had already committed itself for developing the area. Pembroke mayor Dean Hili has also written to the PA say- ing "the prominence of Austral- ia Hall as a historical building should be preserved through the creation of a buffer zone to ensure that the building is not suffocated and surrounded by buildings which are even higher than Australia Hall". Graffitti, Din l-Art Helwa join Australia Hall objectors

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