Stop the destruction of Sliema’s iconic architectural tradition

The Planning Authority has received an application for the destruction of yet another heritage townhouse in Sliema. The townhouse lies on Stella Maris Street, a Category B status Urban Conservation Area, due to it being one of the very few streets in Sliema that has managed to retain its original character despite the onslaught of destructive applications that we have seen multiply over the past few years!

The applicant is seeking to demolish this townhouse and part of the facade, in order to make room for an excavated underground level and a 5 storey residential apartment block above that. The superficial retention of the distorted ‘face’ of the building, only to add 3 additional floors above it, ruins the proportions of both the house and of the streetscape, is an insult to our heritage that completely undermines the very worth of these heritage structures, and their invaluable contribution to our cultural identity.

We urge you to object to this application by simply going on the link below and entering your name and email address in the form at the bottom of the page. This will send an objection in your name to the Planning Authority and Superintendent of Cultural Heritage with minimal work on your part.

Submitting such representations is your statutory right, and in no way exposes you to legal action or recrimination. Please ignore any message from the Planning Authority if you send this in late – that only affects your legal right to appeal which is not the case here.

Please forward this to your contacts – our objections to the PA are a very important tool in limiting such developments that threaten our heritage and landscapes.

Thank you for taking an action to help protect the beauty of these islands!

*****FULL TEXT OF OBJECTION*****

I the undersigned, object to the above-mentioned application.

1)      This site forms part of the Sliema Urban Conservation Area (UCA), specifically designated as a Category B street. According to the relevant local plan policies, where streets within the UCAs have retained the scale and character that contributed to their initial inclusion in the UCA, the Planning Authority will aim to safeguard this special character by limiting the number of new apartment dwellings in the UCAs.

2)      UCA Category B policies state that “Good quality and congruous replacement buildings may be allowed in specific instances”. The five storey building proposed for this site can by no stretch of the imagination be considered a “congruous replacement building”.

3)      This further runs counter to SPED U02.3 since the 5 storey proposal infringes the street’s predominantly two-storey building heights, and is therefore by no means derived from “a context driven approach”, and will only serve to ruin this traditional streetscape.

4)      The increased congestion and urban densification of Sliema, as proposed through this development, runs counter to the policies of the NORTH HARBOUR LOCAL PLAN:

i) In localities such as Sliema and St Julian’s further development would exceed environmental capacity through further noise, traffic, overshadowing, sense of enclosure and degradation of the public realm. [This is especially true of a street as narrow as Stella Maris Street].

ii) If the environmental capacity is pushed beyond its limits, there is a risk of destroying the very things that are valued and give the area its special character/advantage over other areas.

iii) In line with the overall objective above, in order to promote rehabilitation of Sliema, and restrain the growth of new dwellings, no relaxations in building heights are proposed through the Local Plan.

5)      Furthermore, this application runs counter to the island’s development guidelines as set out through the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED), by calling for the unjustified demolition of our cultural built heritage, and will set a dangerous precedent, spelling the end of the Stella Maris Street streetscape and facilitating the approval of demolitions in other Sliema UCA streets.

We therefore urge MEPA to refuse this application and to ensure that special attention be paid to retaining the character and aesthetic values of Stella Maris Street Sliema. 

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