Qormi council ‘powerless’ in protecting historical heritage

The Qormi local council does not have the necessary powers and resources to ensure that a late 18th century farmhouse built by the Knights of St John is protected.

On Thursday, The Shift News published photos sent in by readers showing part of a historic building on the construction site of a DIY centre in Qormi being demolished by heavy machinery.

Concerns were raised by members of the public after photos emerged showing the demolition of the farmhouse which developers are obliged to dismantle and rebuild.

But Qormi mayor Jesmond Aquilina said that the council is powerless in ensuring that planning conditions are respected.

Talking to The Shift News he said, “it’s not our competence to monitor the works,” adding that works are supervised by the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage which approved the relocation of parts of the historical farmhouse.

“Ensuring that the conditions are met is beyond our remit,” he added.

Aquilina said the council did receive a number of complaints on the DIY development and other projects within the locality “and as always we convey these to the competent authorities”.

The developers had said that the farmhouse was carefully dismantled and would be reconstructed close by using the original building material, in line with conditions in the development permit. But the photos show heavy machinery on the site and parts of the farmhouse appear to be demolished.

The DIY retail complex is being proposed by Centre Park Holdings, a company owned by Paul Caruana’s Quality Holdings Limited, Anthony Fenech’s Tum Invest and V&C Developments Ltd, which is owned by Charles and Vincent Borg.

Although still pending Planning Authority approval, a notice on the site states that the new outlet will open in December 2018.

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