Mepa schedules ex-military buildings, chapels, towers and villas

The clock tower in Mtarfa

The clock tower in Mtarfa

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority scheduled 31 properties last month, affording them legal protection.

Their scheduling means that development interventions, design and use would have to be subjected to a higher degree of control than in the case of other buildings, the authority explained. For instance, restoration method statements are required for the assessment of a development application for scheduled properties, while penalties and compensation for damages to scheduled properties are also higher than for non-scheduled buildings.

Buffer zones protect the setting of scheduled property in that no development which would adversely affect the natural setting of these areas is allowed.

The grade (for buildings), class (for archaeology) and level (for ecology) of scheduled properties are based on the significance and vulnerability of the protected heritage. At the same time, they provide guidance about what kind of development is acceptable or not, Mepa pointed out.

Some of the scheduled properties are suffering from neglect, at times leading to vandalism and pillage. They may also have been subjected to insensitive additions, leading to negative visual impacts, or lost traditional character as a result of various changes to their fabric, or put to incompatible uses.

Any further deterioration of the original fabric and spaces must be controlled through rehabilitation. Their authentic character should be retained and compatible use promoted.

Among the scheduled properties, the ex-military buildings have a variety of heritage-related merits, including their landmark value. They may be under threat from proposed development and lack of maintenance.

The Seamen's Memorial Hospital (now Boffa Hospital) is an example of how a military building may be converted into a civilian building, such as a boutique hotel as proposed in the recent Grand Harbour Regeneration Project, without major modifications, the authority pointed out.

Among the churches scheduled are the Chapel of Sta Luċija, Sta Luċija, and the Chapel of Sta Luċija, Mtarfa, which date back to the mediaeval period. In the case of the Chapel of St Oswald at Mtarfa, St Catherine's Chapel in Naxxar and the Santa Marija Addolorata Cemetery at Paola, the structures are still utilised but the lack of maintenance, or inappropriate interventions, resulted in their gradual deterioration. The statue of St Oswald is a votive monument in a bad state of conservation and requires immediate restoration.

Mepa maintains that keeping a historic building in active use, as is the case of the religious properties that have been scheduled, is a simple way of ensuring that they are maintained and conserved.

Care has to be taken, however, when maintenance, masonry cleaning works, or adaptations to modern needs are carried out and consultation from the authority should be sought, it pointed out.

The list of scheduled properties

The clock tower in Triq it-Torri c/w Triq il-Ġilju, the Officer's Mess in Triq il-Maqdes Ruman, the Sisters' Quarter in Triq Dar il-Kaptan c/w Triq il-Konti F. Theuma, the Isolation Hospital in Triq Sir David Bruce, the Military Hospital and surrounding buffer zone in Triq l-Imtarfa, St Oswald Chapel in Triq Sir David Bruce, St Oswald Statue in Triq San Oswaldu, and the Sta Luċija mediaeval chapel in Triq Santa Luċija, all in Mtarfa; and the Army Chaplains Department in Triq Dun Edgar in Mġarr; King George V, Seaman's Hospital at Sqaq Harper, and the Hotel Phoenicia, both in Floriana; Torri tal-Kaptan at Triq it-Torri, Qrendi; the Polverista in the Ras Ħanżir area, and the Sta Marija Addolorata Cemetery, both in Paola; The entrenchment wall from Spinola Bay to St George's Bay, St Julians; the Sta Luċija mediaeval chapel in Triq Ħal Tarxien, Sta Luċija; the St Catherine mediaeval chapel at Wied il-Għasel, Naxxar; Our Lady of Forsaken Souls Chapel in Triq il-Knisja, Żebbuġ; the Conservatorio Vincenzo Bugeja and surrounding gardens and the Istituto Technico Vincenzo Bugeja, both in Triq il-Kbira San Ġużepp, Sta Venera; Villa Buleben, its gardens and ancillary structures at Triq il-Madonna, Żebbuġ; Villa Violette at Triq is-Salib tal-Marsa, Marsa; Villa Macedonia and its surrounding gardens at Triq Sisner, Balzan; Villa Frere, its gardens and ancillary structures, as well as the decorative garden structures, in Pietà; Villa Bologna and the surrounding gardens, including the boundary wall at Triq Sant' Anton, Attard; Villa Gourgion, its gardens and ancillary structures in Triq il-Kbira, and the buffer zone around the belvedere in Triq it-Transfigurazzjoni, Lija; Dejr il-Bniet in Triq Rill, Dingli; Ħal-Resqun Catacombs and the buffer zone at Vjal l-Avjazzjoni Ċivili, Luqa; the Manresa religious complex and chapel in Triq Santa Dminka, Victoria, and the underground circular rock-cut chambers and buffer zones at Għarb.

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