A facility in St George’s Bay dating back to the Cold War is at risk of being “totally obliterated” if a planned project goes ahead, a group of NGOs, local councils, and residents have today said in a statement.
The group said that the approved 37-storey tower and 17-storey hotel as part of db Group’s St George’s Bay project will put the facility, which includes features that go back to the 1930s, at risk of being demolished. They have now have called for an Emergency Conservation Order to be enforced on the site until a “proper assessment” of the heritage site can be undertaken.
“Following the Planning Authority’s approval of the db Group project in St. George’s Bay last year, three local councils, several NGOs and residents came together to appeal the decision,” the group said today.
“Now plans and evidence have come to light showing the existence of an underground Cold War bunker created to house a sub-station in the 1950s, and an engine room dating from the 1930s. These features are of considerable significance from an industrial heritage as well as military point of view, however they have not received any mention in the heritage assessment reports commissioned by the developer,” they continued.
“Both features would be totally obliterated if the project is allowed to go ahead, along with the earliest example of British period barrack blocks in Malta”
The NGOs ask how is it possible that the Cold War bunker and other heritage features have been completely overlooked during the planning application process which was supposed to be thorough and extensive.
“We cannot understand how such features have failed to show up on any of the studies presented to the public and supposedly scrutinised by the Planning Authority. This shows that the public has no one to turn to for effective assessment of applications, and it smacks of a shoddy and negligent approach where all is fast-tracked and heritage is ignored so that it can more easily be destroyed. We are requesting the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage to issue an Emergency Conservation Order on the heritage features on site and to carry out a proper assessment to save what can still be saved.”
The eight organisations endorsing the above statement are:
Din l-Art Ħelwa, Ramblers’ Association of Malta, BirdLife Malta, Friends of the Earth Malta, Moviment Graffitti, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Bicycle Advocacy Group and Żminijietna – Voice of the Left