Thursday, January 29, 2015

New hotel proposed on abandoned Holiday Inn site

MaltaToday is informed that one of the proposals being considered is a high-rise development on part of the site, which may possibly be the highest ever in the area.

James Debono
28 January 2015

MEPA’s Planning Directorate is in “preliminary discussions” on a proposal to develop a “new hotel” on the abandoned site of the former Holiday Inn in Tigné, Sliema a spokesperson for the Malta Environment and Planning Authority confirmed.

The building, part of which includes the officers’ quarters dating back to the British colonial era, has been left in a shabby and abandoned state for the past decade despite being proposed for Grade 2 scheduling by MEPA.

MaltaToday is informed that one of the proposals being considered is a high-rise development on part of the site, which may possibly be the highest ever in the area.

When asked whether a high rise development is being proposed in the barracks area, Paul Attard, director of GAP Developments Plc, said the company has “no particular plans” for the site but confirmed that it “is looking to all possibilities available according to the current building policies”.

MEPA did not reply when asked whether the site is eligible for high-rise development. The Tigné peninsula is one of the sites where high-rise development over 11 storeys can take place according to the new policy approved in 2014.

Over the past months residents have denounced “countless mysterious fires” and a general lack of maintenance which have made the abandoned building a haven for “vermin of all kinds”.

MEPA also confirmed that a permit issued in 2010 obliging developers to restore Fort Cambridge did not impose any obligations with regard to the upkeep of the British era barracks. Currently the developers are conducting works to restore the nearby fort.

The site was inspected on Monday following “a lot of complaints from residents” about the accumulation of rubbish and debris. But according to MEPA there was no reason to issue an enforcement order against the owners.

According to Paul Attard, GAP Developments is presently concentrating on the restoration works of Fort Cambridge – the pentagonal British-built fortress dating back to 1880s and the glacis.

“As one would appreciate, restoration is a very laborious work and it takes quite an amount of time and attention.”

As regards the Barracks, he pointed out that the building has been sealed.

On its part MEPA confirmed that the ex-British barracks, which is part of the former hotel site, is being proposed as a Grade 2 scheduled building.

Green Party councillor Michael Briguglio described the site of the officers’ quarters as a mess.

“Despite its architectural beauty, it has been transformed into an abandoned site, with rubbish accumulating, and there was also a fire in the building,” he said.

Briguglio claimed that Sliema residents had been given the impression that the officers’ quarters will be restored to its former state by the Fort Cambridge developers, but instead it has been left to rot.

“This reflects a lack of respect towards residents and the locality,” Briguglio said, auguring that the bad state of the building will not be used as an excuse to obtain a free hand which would lead to unsightly over-development.

Although the site is adjacent to the high rise Fort Cambridge development, it also lies in proximity to low-rise residential houses.

The barracks is being proposed for Grade 2 scheduling by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority. If scheduled, the building itself will be protected from demolition but alterations can be made to its interior. Recently the façade of the naval clinic was integrated in an eight-storey development next to the Pjazzetta at Ghar il-Lembi Sliema.

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