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Phoenicia Hotel to get two additional wings

The planning authority has approved the construction of two additional wings at the Phoenicia Hotel in Floriana, as well as a new pool and extensive facilities integrated with the landscape.

The permit includes upgrading works on the existing hotel, the restoration of the nearby British-era stables and coach house to accommodate additional bedrooms, and the general upgrading of St John's Ditch and hotel grounds.

The new wings, one on either side of the hotel, are to be no higher than road level, following excavation into existing landfill, and feature landscaped green roofs. The general street level area close to the bus terminus will also be cleaned up, removing a number of unsightly features. 

The renovations will add some 80 rooms to the hotel's current 137.

Meanwhile, the top level of the existing hotel will be upgraded, maintaining the current height, in a style reflecting its original 1930s design. Utility rooms on the top level will be concealed behind a new parapet wall, simplifying the skyscape.

Existing structures around the pool area are to be demolished and replaced with a new facility incorporating changing rooms, a kitchen, bar and first aid room. The new new facility, however, will be integrated within extensive landscaping and will not be visible. 

Some controversy arose over the uprooting of 91 mature trees to make room for the landscaping. As the cultural heritage superintendence determined that removing the trees would enhance the view of the surrounding bastions, the environment directorate agreed to their removal but ordered the developers to plant 1,122 trees as compensation.

The developers considered this too onerous as the trees were being removed as accretions to a historic site. The Mepa board agreed to leave the issue as a reserve matter pending clearance from the environment directorate over new conditions.

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