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Residential complex in Spinola approved

An artist’s impression of the approved proposal for the Villa Frieres residential development overlooking Spinola Bay in St Julian’s.

An artist’s impression of the approved proposal for the Villa Frieres residential development overlooking Spinola Bay in St Julian’s.

The planning watchdog yesterday unanimously approved the development of a substantially downsized residential complex overlooking the picturesque Spinola Bay in St Julian’s.

The project includes the restoration of the historic Villa Frieres, beneath the parish church, to convert it into a diplomatic residence.

The original proposal was first made in 2002, with a massive 21-unit residential complex spread over seven floors.

However, as it went through the planning sifters, developers reduced the building mass and shrunk it even further since the board discussed the proposal in April.

The developer’s architect, Edwin Mintoff, told the Malta Environment and Planning Authority board yesterday that the project was substantially downsized to secure approval.

The latest approved plans were almost two floors smaller than the original, with the top floor recessed a further 10 metres to be almost invisible from bay level.

Developer Joe Cortis wanted to put an end to the decade-long process and finally see his project come to fruition.

Dr Mintoff said the project was now down to 12 units: nine three-bedroom apartments, one two-bedroom apartment and two one-bedroom apartments.

It will also see commercial spaces at ground floor level and a parking area with just seven spaces, 17 fewer than what is required and the developer will be paying close to €20,000 to make up for the parking spaces he could not offer.

The project will extend from the present building line, between Saddles Bar and the villa’s gate, and the parish church parking area above.

During yesterday’s meeting, only a few residents of neighbouring buildings voiced their concerns, as they had done in previous hearings. Those who spoke asked for clarifications.

Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar’s Astrid Vella praised the planning watchdog for showing how “a workable compromise” could easily be reached following a detailed process bringing all parties together.

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