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MALTATODAY 20 November 2022

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8 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 20 NOVEMBER 2022 NEWS JAMES DEBONO THE Superintendence for Cultur- al Heritage said a proposed Mar- samxett harbour hotel next to a scheduled 16th century building, once believed to have been inhab- ited by artist Mattia Preti, would be "unacceptable and totally ob- jectionable". The SCH said GP Borg's propos- al for the hotel, with its long and narrow glass apertures, was ob- jectionable in design, volume and massing. GP Borg is one of the island's main suppliers of ready-mix con- crete. The dilapidated building opposite Valletta's Peacock Gar- dens, overlooks the Marsamxett harbour. GP Borg wants to devel- op the house to build a 29-room, 5-star, 'superior boutique hotel'. The which is earmarked for dem- olition to be replaced by a 29-room "5-star superior boutique hotel". The hotel will alsohave three basement levels, and five storeys housing a cafe, wine bar, confer- ence area, restaurant and spa. Its architec is Mariello Spiteri, a plan- ning consultant who previously served on a PA decision-making board. The SCH is also objecting to the "excessive amount of excava- tion works, within an area that is archaeologically sensitive", and ruled out any rock-cutting in this area. Heritage NGO Din l-Art Ħelwa has warned the excavation for three basement floors would cause irreparable damage to the nearby Preti Palazzo, a Grade 2-listed building. Over 100 objections were pre- sented against this development. In one of these objections, archi- tect Anton Valentino referred to the negative social impact of the proposed building on the quality of life of residents in Sqaq it-Te- atru l-Antik. "What presently is a two-storey façade on this lane is proposed to become a four-sto- rey façade plus receded floor. Re- al people live on this lane, with a right to natural light and ventila- tion." He also described the idea of building over the scheduled 16th-century building as "deplor- able". "Such an act would destroy forever the notion that this was a house, a house inhabited by Mat- tia Preti, a two-storey house with its own roof. It would now be- come a mere appendage to a com- mercial building." And while acknowledging that reactions to design proposals are often subjective, Valentino lamented the absence of any at- tempt to relate to the scale of the city's architecture, describing the fenestration pattern as "more ap- propriate to giraffes rather than humans", and the proportions for the façade as "alien to the stone- work pattern in Valletta." In 2011, the Valletta local coun- cil filed an application to turn the palazzo into a hotel and connect it to the water polo pitch facilities just below the bastions. The appli- cation was later withdrawn after facing criticism for the contempo- rary design presented in plans for the new building. In 2016, the Planning Authority refused a permit for a five-storey terraced house on the site, after strong objections by the Super- intendence for Cultural Heritage, which shot down the "aesthetical- ly unacceptable and incompati- ble" design for the World Heritage Site's streetscape. Moreover, the increase in height would have cre- ated "a high and unsightly blank wall" directly over an adjacent scheduled property. But following an appeal to the Environment and Planning Re- view Tribunal, a permit was issued in 2020 for the construction of a terraced house of three floors and a receded floor. In the new hotel application, the five-storey build will be as high as that first proposed in 2016, with the difference that additional sto- reys in a contemporary design are also being proposed on the adja- cent older building. The PA's internal advisory panel on design issues has asked for 3D renders from different views to be in a better position to assess the project before pronouncing itself. Thumbs-down to Marsamxett hotel from heritage watchdog Superintendence does not mince its words on six-storey hotel overlooking Marsamxett proposed by cement company "What presently is a two-storey façade on this lane is proposed to become a four-storey façade plus receded floor. Real people live on this lane, with a right to natural light and ventilation."

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