Architects to PA: Stop the half-truths and do your job

Kamra tal-Periti disgusted at Sea Malta and Villa St Ignatius inaction

Updated 4.55pm - Added PA statement

The Planning Authority has been accused of violating its legal obligations and resorting to "false statements and half-truths" by the country's architectural lobby. 

In a statement, the Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers said that recent cases of demolition works at the old Sea Malta building as well as Villa St Ignatius in Balluta showed how the PA was either incompetent or complicit. 

The PA, the Chamber said, seemed intent on ignoring any conservation-worthy developments unless they were specifically scheduled. 

“Sadly, the lack of scheduling appears to be considered as a licence for wholesale destruction and obliteration of our fragile heritage, which goes well beyond the formal list of scheduled properties,” it said.

WATCH: Workers send wooden balcony at Villa St Ignatius crashing down

Parts of the old Sea Malta/NAAFI building in Marsa began being demolished by Enemalta contractors last month, prompting outrage by the Chamber, Din l-Art Ħelwa and Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar.

Separately, Times of Malta reported last week that workers had started demolishing parts of Villa St Ignatius. Work momentarily halted when a PA case officer arrived, only to resume later. 

The Church's Environment Commission also waded into the Villa St Ignatius controversy on Wednesday, saying in a statement that the building should be scheduled.

"As long as such cases continue unchecked, people are right in thinking that such abuses by the construction sector are accepted," the Commission said. 

The PA defended works at the old Sea Malta building by saying parts of its were dangerous and had to be knocked down. The Chamber has contested that, saying the site's structural appraisal report makes no mention of such danger. 

In a statement concerning Villa St Ignatius works, the PA essentially washed its hands of the matter, saying demolition works were sanctioned by a court and had to be supervised by a court-appointed expert. 

The chamber noted that in other countries, when heritage buildings were destroyed in defiance of regulations, the courts ordered a reconstruction.

“We expect that the necessary measures are taken to safeguard our built heritage from further destruction under the guise of permitted development,” it said.

PA challenges Chamber to substantiate claims

The PA took umbrage at the Chamber's claims, challenging it to "susbstantiate its accusations of 'false statements and half-truths'." 

It restated its position in relation to the Villa St Ignatius and former Sea Malta building sites, and then took a swipe at the Chamber by suggesting an element of hypocrisy was at play. 

For the Chamber to be credible, the PA said, "it should start to report and take action against individuals within its own profession who are responsible for such works." 

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