Updated to include reaction:
Unsightly and illegal tents erected on a Grade 1 Scheduled building in Senglea, better known as il-Macina, have been quickly dismantled following The Shift’s report two days ago.
The canopies, with closed retractable doors used as a restaurant, were visible across the Grand Harbour, particularly from the Birgu waterfront, reserved for multi-million-euro super yachts and upmarket tourism.
While the canopies appeared recently, The Shift found no evidence of any permit relating to them on the Planning Authority website. Furthermore, despite complaints from residents, the Authority had taken no action.
Residents told The Shift that as soon as the issue was made public, the owners quickly sent their employees to remove them.
Senglea Hotel Operations Ltd, the company managing the site, which was turned into a hotel a few years ago, is still seeking permission to build an extension of an exterior lift to the roof and the construction of a bridge from the roof of the scheduled Knights of Malta fortification.
The building, which served as the headquarters of the Malta Labour Party for decades, is managed by Curacao-based Van Der Heyden Group.
The latest development application, which already raised the ire of the local council and NGOs, is being fronted by architect Edwin Mintoff.
Expressing its “grave concern”, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage said that the proposed extension of the lift would increase the height, rendering it evidently conspicuous.”
The Planning Authority is still to issue its recommendation on this application.
According to the company managing the Macina, these tents was temporary and a permit was not needed.
“The structure was erected temporarily for a specific event due to weather conditions and specific requirements. Our operations have always complied with regulations, and the permit for this non-permanent structure is not required as it was assembled for less than the minimum requirement for a permit,” the company said.
“We take great pride in preserving Malta’s cultural heritage and have implemented measures to ensure that our events do not compromise the integrity of the Macina building. We remain committed to responsible tourism and heritage preservation and are open to addressing any concerns raised by the authorities or the public.”
Heritage experts insisted that in this case, these tents, even if temporary, were in bad taste and should have never been put in place.