Partit Demokratiku (PD) said it will be filing an objection with the Planning Authority on the proposed development in Pieta, in the area of the historical Giardino Zamitello and Villa Frere gardens which conservation groups have said will destroy this heritage.
The development application, filed by David Borg of Land Gate Ltd, is for a a nine-storey hotel next to the adjacent 200-year old Giardino Zamitello. PD said such a development would ruin all the voluntary work carried out over the past years by the group Friends of Villa Frere to restore one of the most undervalued heritage sites in Malta.
The Party referred to revelations by The Shift News yesterday, which published documentary evidence of a letter sent by another developer to the Lands Authority a week before the last general elections in which Joseph Schranz said he was promised the Prime Minister’s “full cooperation” for his acquisition of public land in the area for another development.
At the time, Joseph Muscat was responsible for Lands. PD said it expected the police to investigate the matter.
“At a time when guardianship legislation has been rolled out to encourage agreements between NGOs and government, this development would run completely contrary to the direction otherwise being encouraged. It would not only ruin the work of volunteers but also destroy priceless heritage in the process,” said Martin Cauchi Inglott.
PD proposed that the government step in and buy these gardens to create new parks and public spaces, which will increase the inherent value of surrounding heritage properties, Deputy Leader Timothy Alden said.
PD said it supported an alternative planning approach which promoted an economy recognising and building on Malta’s heritage, culture and identity. “They are a unique competitive resource which we cannot get back once they are lost,” Anthony Buttigieg said, pointing out that PD had tabled a Private Member’s motion for a national masterplan in August last year.
The Planning Authority is accepting feedback on the development of the nine-storey hotel (PA00698/19) on its website until 8 March.