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MT 21 June 2017

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maltatoday, WEDNESDAY, 21 JUNE 2017 News 6 Marsascala's oldest building set for demolition JAMES DEBONO THE Planning Authority will today decide the fate of what is reputed to be Marsascala's oldest building. The building could be de- molished to make way for a restaurant and a new dwell- ing if a planning application proposing so is approved. Despite objections by a num- ber of residents who called for the preservation of the old building which stands as a reminder of how Marsascala looked a a century ago, the demolition has been given the clearance by the Superintend- ence for Cultural Heritage. The case officer is recom- mending the approval despite reservations on the design ex- pressed by the Design Advi- sory Committee, which called for a design which is "more in keeping with the context." But the Planning Directo- rate is recommending the approval of the proposed de- sign describing the current building "as the last remnant of a long stretch of similarly unassuming buildings which used to characterise this wa- terfront" adding that it has no "intrinsic architectural value". The surrounding context is even described as drab, with a series of "mediocre run-of- the-mill three and four storey buildings f lanking the site". "It is within this context that the possibility of a stand- alone replacement building was discussed with the archi- tect." The case officer also praised the design presented by the architect describing it as a " post-modern hybrid design, partly reminiscent of early 20th century cubist archi- tecture, with broadstroke, unsubtle hints of minimalist simplicity". It also praised the use of large swathes of solid mass, which are occasionally punc- tured by glass openings of simple geometric form, allow for the penetration of natu- ral light where it is most re- quired. According to the case of- ficer, the proposal conforms with this guidance set in the Development Control guide- lines issued in 2015 "which encourages high quality, in- novative and architectural designs that respect and en- rich their surrounding con- texts". The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage concurred that "the existing building is rather plain and has no out- standing architectural fea- tures" and therefore it "did not object to the demolition of this building". But the PA also received 18 different objections from a number of residents objecting to the demolition of the old building. The Marsascala council also objected, describing the building in question as one of the oldest buildings in the village, probably dating to even more than 100 years. It called on the case officer to conduct proper research to ascertain when the building was constructed and whether it should be preserved as local heritage. What is possibly Marascala's oldest building, dating back more than 100 years, is set for demolition The old building will be replaced wit a restaurant and dwelling of a "post-modern hybrid design, with broadstroke, unsubtle hints of minimalist simplicity" Fate of Ghar Gherduf to be decided tomorrow PAUL COCKS THE Planning Board will decide tomorrow whether to withdraw a development permit granted for the development of terraced house in Kercem, Gozo, after a discrepancy in the classifica- tion of the site in different re- cords was noted. The Planning Authority said last week that the development appeared to threaten the exist- ence of the only existing Ro- man catacombs in Gozo and that the site had been misclas- sified on the authority's online server. Speaking to MaltaToday, Ian Borg – the newly-appointed minister for planning – con- firmed that the board will be taking a decision tomorrow. During the application pro- cess, the planning directorate had considered the site as a Class B archaeological zone. The PA had said that, during the processing of the applica- tion, both the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage and the former environment protec- tion directorate had been con- sulted and no objections were raised. But government records re- vealed that the site and sur- rounding area had been consid- ered as Class A protected sites since the year 2000. The same discrepancy was noted on the authority's electronic system, which is used by the planning directorate when planning ap- plications are being evaluated. The PA announced it would be carrying out an internal au- dit to confirm that all the in- formation on its online system is correct. Borg welcomed the PA's deci- sion although he said he was not personally aware of any other similar situations. He said it would be up to the PA to decide whether the fi- nal report on the audit will be made public. The PA confirmed that, as a result of this discrepancy, grounds existed for the with- drawal of the permit. The authority will also launch an internal investigation to de- termine how, and why, the dis- crepancy existed in the system.

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