Fortina: 109 apartments proposed on land zoned for tourism

A residential complex comprising 109 apartments rising 15 floors above street level is included in a planning application which envisions the demolition of the existing Fortina 4 star hotel and the addition of five additional floors on the existing 17-storey hotel tower.

The inclusion of  21,000 square metres of apartments in the Fortina development indicates that the government has changed the zoning of the area which  was transferred to the developers in the 1960s on condition that its use is limited to tourism development.

In their application presented three days after the general election, the developers acknowledge that they  are not the sole owners of the site but declare that they have been granted “consent” by the other owners (in this case the government) for the proposal.

The Shift News asked Carlo Mifsud-the Chief Executive Officer of the Lands Authority whether the Lands Authority has approved any changes to the original deed to enable residential development, to state when these changes were made and whether the ground rent paid by the developers has been changed and by how much. The questions remained unanswered.

Questions sent to applicant  Edward Zammit Tabona also remained unanswered.

Last month the Democratic Party had  expressed concern that the development resulted in a change of use from that stipulated in the original contract, and would “necessitate a rethink of the ground rent, which is an insignificant cost in light of the huge amount of money set to be made.”

A case officer report for a previous application presented by Fortina  also reveals that the original deed limited development in the Spa area of the present development to four floors above the hotel garden levels. Objectors are saying that the application is also in breach of this condition.

A Project Development Statement (PDS) submitted by the developers reveals that the residential component will consist of four adjacent blocks with varying heights, rising from nine floors above the retail centre to 15 floors next to the hotel tower.

The blocks will accommodate 109 units which will occupy a Gross Floor Area of 21,000 square metres. The proposal also envisions the construction of three levels of below ground car parking; the  construction of a ground floor retail complex under a landscaped public open space and the refurbishment of the existing 5 star hotel.

The hotel tower will be physically split from the residential block by the creation of a new pedestrian road linked to Ix-Xatt ta Tigne. The creation of this new road is necessary to make the site eligible for high rise development. The Floor Area Ratio Policy states that high rise development can only take place sites fully surrounded by roads.

The public open space created at the back of the residential block and along Triq Censu Xerri will consist of over 2,500 square metres landscaped area maintained by the hotel and accessible to the public.

The project’s economic viability is ensured by it being “located in a prime real estate area where new residential developments already enjoy record breaking sales”, the PDS claims.

“The addition of a new luxury development and the revitalisation of this stretch of the Tigne Seafront will lead to a further improvement of the residential as well as the touristic product on offer”.

The PA’s Design Advisory committee chaired by architect David Mallia which also includes architect Ray Demicoli-the architect of the proposed 40 storey hotel in Fort Cambridge, has already declared its approval of the design of the project.

The Sliema Local Council is objecting to the development and has called for a Traffic Impact Assessment and a Social Impact Assessment.  The Environment and Resources Authority is still assessing whether the project requires a full Environment Impact Assessment which would also include public consultation.




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