Two Marsalforn townhouses to bite the dust

PA had refused application but decision was overturned

The townhouses on Valley Road in Marsalforn. Photo: Daniel Cilia

The townhouses on Valley Road in Marsalforn. Photo: Daniel Cilia

Another two “well-preserved” townhouses will be making way for apartments along Valley Road in Marsalforn, to the disappointment of residents.

The planning authority had refused the development of two food outlets and 12 apartments on Triq il-Wied, but the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal then revoked the refusal.

Last month, signs went up on the townhouses, asking residents not to park in the area, and workers turned up on site.

Among the reasons for refusal, the authority had noted that there were architectural elements and features present within the existing building that were worth retaining due to their significant architectural and contextual relevance.

But the appeal was submitted on grounds, among others, that the building did not form part of a series of similar facades that created a sequential pattern along a streetscape that would otherwise be disturbed by the proposed demolition. Rather, the site was squashed and flanked by high new developments on both sides.

The site was squashed and flanked by high new developments on both sides

While acknowledging that the building’s facade had various architectonic elements based on classical and other decorative styles, the tribunal noted that the zone was characterised by modern and contemporary buildings. The tribunal did not believe that retaining the facade would enhance or protect the existing architectural context of the existing building.

At the same time, however, no proof was brought forward to the effect that the building had some high architectonic or historic value that merited preservation.

However, in their objection originally filed with the planning authority against the development, Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar noted that the two houses were “well-preserved townhouses of architectural quality and im-mense historic value”.

Residents who spoke to this newspaper referred to the townhouses as the ‘Bishop’s house’, and the FAA, in fact, explained in its objection that the property belonged to Mgr Giuseppe Pace who served as the seventh Gozo Bishop between 1944 and 1972.

Due to the historic and architectural importance of these buildings, their significance to the socio-cultural identity of Gozo, and in line with the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Deve-lopment, the eNGO had called for the houses’ preservation.

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