Historic Fort Chambray remains unrestored despite PA permission

Restoration works on the historic Fort Chambray in Għajnsielem, Gozo, remain in limbo more than nine years after Planning Authority permission was first sought, The Shift can confirm.

Six years after this application was filed, in 2021, the Planning Authority conditionally approved the restoration works, but they have not yet begun.

Answering questions from The Shift, TBA Periti’s Prof. Alex Torpiano, the architect for the restoration works, confirmed that while the “damage [to the fort] is more or less at previous levels”, he was not aware of any developments from the owners in the fort’s restoration.

The historic 18th-century fort was built during the Knights’ era, strategically overlooking the port of Mġarr, Gozo. A section of the privately owned fort currently also serves as a gated community.

In January 2022, The Shift had reported on how the Planning Authority’s delays in granting permission for the fort’s restoration had stalled entirely plans for the fort’s preservation, with the owner, Michael Caruana, contending that the cost of the delayed works would go beyond the lease agreement obligations.

The fort’s restoration has been delayed for more than nine years. Photo: Google Maps

The application, PA/00841/15, sought permission for the restoration of the bastion walls surrounding the fort, along with four buildings on the inside: the Knights’ barracks, the Polverista (gunpowder magazine), another magazine (referred to as the bakery), and a doctor’s house.

The fort is privately owned through a 1992 lease agreement spanning 99 years, awarding the fort from the Government to Fort Chambray Ltd. The company was initially part-owned by a Monaco-based businessman but was later bought by Gozitan businessman Michael Caruana who is also the owner of the Calypso Hotel, among other businesses.

Despite the application being conditionally approved in July 2021, the works, which would ensure the fort’s long-term preservation, have not yet been started, condemning the unrestored areas of the fort to the same fate of abandonment as many other national heritage buildings.

Prof Torpiano is also the president of Din L-Art Ħelwa, the national trust in charge of the restoration and maintenance of National Heritage buildings which are publicly owned, unlike Fort Chambray. Last March, The Shift reported how Din L-Art Ħelwa could not proceed with the restoration of several sites due to government bureaucratic delays, leading to the sites’ degradation.


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