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MT 5 October 2014

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maltatoday, SUNDAY, 5 OCTOBER 2014 8 News JAMES DEBONO MEPA'S Planning Directorate is proposing that the blatant breach of a permit condition aimed at protect- ing two unique internal staircases in two traditional townhouses in Ca- thedral Street, Sliema, be made good for through a cash payment. The directorate, the technical arm of the Malta Environment and Plan- ning Authority, is proposing that Polidano Group forfeits €14,000 of a €47,000 bank guarantee which was deposited to ensure that all permit conditions were observed. The permit issued in 2007 for the development of 21 dwellings, 32 ga- rages and one office on the site of the two townhouses, laid down that the internal staircases in the two build- ings, together with the supporting columns, were to be carefully dis- mantled and re-used in the same development. The new staircase had to incorporate the wrought iron rail- ings. But when the development was made this condition was not adhered to. Moreover while the permit was issued for 32 garages, only 30 were built and a swimming pool was add- ed at ground level. The application to regularise the already built development was pre- sented by Pierre Galea on behalf of the property division of Polidano Group. In January 2014 MEPA's own Cul- tural Heritage Advisory Committee objected to "any departure from the original permit", insisting that the integration of the staircases in the new development was an "overriding condition". In 2010 the developers applied to regularise these illegalities. Despite this clear breach in condi- tions the Planning Directorate is still recommending the approval of the permit because "the development as constructed resulted in a good qual- ity project". In fact the property, now known as the Cathedral Mansions, retains a classic façade design, incorporat- ing elegant wooden apertures and stonework. A decision on whether to regular- ise the development is expected on 24 October. FAA vindicated Commenting on the 2007 per- mit, Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar spokesperson Astrid Vella described the interior of the houses as "built in a uniquely grand and beautiful style the likes of which do not survive elsewhere." The three houses demolished to make way for the present develop- ment were located in the intersec- tion between Cathedral and Saint Paul streets and are known for the historical value of their interior. The houses dated back to the late 19th century and contained vari- ous architectural features worthy of preservation. One of the houses included a decorative hallway at ground floor and the staircase lead- ing to the first floor incorporated a decorative wrought iron railing. The stairs leading to the first floor of the second house were of the dog-legged type, having decorative supporting columns and decorative wrought iron railings. The permit was issued on condi- tion that the two staircases of both buildings were to be dismantled and re-used in the new development. The existing facades of the build- ings fronting Cathedral Street and that of the corner house along St Paul Street were to be retained and incorporated in the new develop- ment. This condition has been ob- served. When asked to submit its views in 2007 the Heritage Advisory Com- mittee indicated that the proposed demolition of the townhouses was unacceptable and that these houses should not be touched but pre- served. "These are prestigious houses which form part of a series of rows of houses all having the same height and style," the HAC told MEPA. The committee also considered the construction of 25 apartments and 30 garages as excessive in scale and "against the character of buildings within a UCA." The HAC also insisted that the height of the building should remain "two floors since the street still re- tains its original height and design." But MEPA ignored this recom- mendation by referring to "previous commitments" made to the applicant which had to be honoured. Polidano to pay a mere €14,000 for destroying two unique staircases PUBLIC CONSULTATION MEETING The Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Manuel Mallia in collaboration with the Cospicua, Vittoriosa, Senglea and Kalkara Local Councils will be holding a public consultation meeting on security issues. Acting Commissioner Ray Zammit and representatives from Transport Malta will also be present for the meeting. St. Georges Band Club, Bormla 6 th, October 2014 18:00 KALKARA LOCAL COUNCIL SENGLEA LOCAL COUNCIL VITTORIOSA LOCAL COUNCIL COSPICUA LOCAL COUNCIL ABOUT LAW AND ORDER Tables and chairs for Ghar Lapsi too? THE owners of a bar operating from a garage in Ghar Lapsi are proposing the erection of a seasonal platform to be used only during summer on part of the rocky foreshore to accommodate "tables and chairs". The part of the foreshore where the platform is being proposed is described in the planning application as a "dilapi- dated depression". The land in question is government- owned and the garage owners have informed the government of their pro- posal to set up a platform on the coast. The government's policy is to allow private individuals to submit applica- tions on public land but a final decision is taken by the lands department after MEPA decides whether or not to allow the development. The application also proposes the sanctioning of internal alterations and the replacement of an external canopy with a timber canopy. Plans presented to MEPA show 14 tables located on the proposed plat- form. A previous application to put up chairs and tables in this area was re- fused in 2004. Cathedral Street, Sliema 'Dilapidated depression' in Ghar Lapsi

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