Over 200 objections have been filed against a development application seeking to convert a two-storey property into a four-storey complex with a full-scale catering establishment in a predominantly residential street in Balzan.
Objectors argued that the development would permanently alter the streetscape of Vjal de Paule, setting a precedent in a street that falls under a Residential Priority Demarcation zone.
The proposed development is a stone’s throw away from San Anton Gardens, part of the grounds of the Presidential Palace dating back to Grand Master Antoine de Paule in the 17th Century.
From 1802 to 1964, San Anton Palace was the official residence of the British Governor, after which it remained a state building and is now the residence of the President of Malta.
All eyes will now be on the case officer assessing the proposed development.
If approved, the ground floor of the four-storey complex would include a bar area, a swimming pool, an industrial-grade kitchen including cold and dry storage facilities, food preparation areas and a separate section for cooking, washing and serving.
International Hotel Investments plc, the owners of the Corinthia Palace Hotel across the street, also filed an objection saying “the proposed development is an overdevelopment of the site”.
The objection adds, “The applicant is proposing to replace one dwelling unit with over 1,300 sqm of office space and 56 car spaces, including three floors of excavation…The proposed number of car spaces would require a Traffic Impact Study that is not being presented in the application documents.”
The owners of the Corinthia Palace Hotel, an iconic building in the area, also argued that “the proliferation of non-residential uses” within these protected zones will likely impact their particular residential character.
Corinthia Group is itself facing criticism on proposed developments in areas such as Ħal Ferħ.
NGO Moviment Graffitti’s arguments, also taken up in objections by residents, pointed out that commercial development in a protected residential area would “bring about precisely the adverse effects outlined by the planning board in 2017”.
In 2017, the Planning Authority rejected a Planning Control application that sought to remove the additional level of protection afforded to the streetscape in Vjal de Paule through the Residential Priority Demarcation zone.
The application being contested now was filed by Anthony Spiteri on behalf of Tal-Herba Environment Ltd.