Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.
The private developers of public property in Little Armier – known as Baia Beach – are contesting a decision taken by the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage, which objected to their proposal to turn the roof of their lido into an outdoor restaurant.
After reviewing their development application, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage (SCH) told the Planning Authority that turning the lido’s roof into a restaurant was unacceptable, as it would negatively impact a nearby Knights-era redoubt.
“The proposed development would result in further clutter and massing encroaching onto the scheduled Torri ta’ l-Armier redoubt. This office notes that the proposed development is not acceptable in principle, as it will result in a negative visual impact on the scheduled redoubt, as well as its context and its visual connection with the sea. Furthermore, this office reiterates that it is not in favour of further clutter in such a sensitive area.”
However, the businessman behind this project, Jonathan Mangion, the CEO of pharmaceutical importers A.M Mangion, reacted negatively, telling the cultural heritage authority that he would not change anything in his plans.
Through his architect Wayne Scerri, he argued that his proposal should be allowed as he claimed the same government watchdog had done with other similar developments.
“Nearly all renowned hotels and restaurants in Valletta and some instances Sliema, Mdina and Birgu all overlook scheduled buildings of much more monumental and historical value and still utilise their roof space for guests,” Scerri wrote in a letter to the SCH.
Accusing the heritage watchdog of double standards, Scerri wrote that Mangion’s development proposal should be retained “in the same way SCH overlooked the recreational use of the overlying rooms above the redoubt during the summer recess, and even more blatantly closed an eye to the ironic erected structure over such redoubt.”
To sustain his case of double standards, Mangion attached a picture of what he claims the SCH has overlooked at the mentioned redoubt.
Research by The Shift shows no development was approved at the Torri ta’ l-Armier redoubt, just behind the proposed Baia Beach development, and the only application was to replace a dangerous roof in 2017.
Structures appearing on the roof of the redoubt in the picture supplied by Mangion do not appear to have a permit, but the Planning Authority issued no enforcement order.
Long controversy and abuse of public property
Baia Beach is owned by the Lands Authority and was leased through a 50-year concession in 2005. The original owner of the concession is not publicly known, as the government redacted the contract when it published it in parliament.
While The Shift is informed that it has changed hands, ending up in Jonathan Mangion’s portfolio a few years ago, the latter refuses to reply to questions on how he acquired it and from whom.
According to the law, such concessions cannot be transferred except with the government’s consent.
In 2022, a new entrepreneur, Dominic Micallef Jr, who owns the Aria nightclub in San Gwann, boasted on social media that he had acquired Baia Beach Lido, which he would turn into Malta’s first Buddha Bar Lido.
Renovation works on the Armier venue commenced but were suddenly abandoned mid-way through. The Planning Authority later issued a stop and enforcement order noting that none of the works were covered by a permit.
Later, Jonathan Mangion, who refused to entertain questions by The Shift on whether he had transferred the concession to Micallef, applied to sanction the illegal works carried out by Micallef and develop the venue further.
So far, the Planning Authority has not yet issued its recommendation, and the application remains pending.