FAA looks forward to seeing every part of Malta and Gozo regulated by a revised Local Plan

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Art Nouveau houses in Dingli StreetFlimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) is pleased to note that MEPA can now afford the luxury of common-sense, at least in heritage matters.

Yesterday’s DCC C decision on the fate of the Art Nouveau houses in Dingli Street was certainly a victory for common sense in a difficult situation where the Local Plan categorisation and height limitation did not tally with the more precise evaluation of the houses by MEPA’s Heritage Advisory Committee and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage. This was especially blatant, in the case of the finest house, no. 10 Dingli Street which the MEPA Case Office described as being almost of the standard of Grade 1 scheduling, ie, a national monument, while the 2006 Sliema Local Plan downgraded it from Category B+ to C!

A similar anomaly was made with the six fine Sliema townhouses on the corner of Milner and Howard Streets, which have been deprived of protection as part of Sliema’s Urban Conservation Area (UCA), much to the amazement of the Heritage Advisory Committee. This shift of the UCA boundary just happens to coincide with a building project which was planned on the site.

Because of the Dingli Street disparities, the DCC Chairman recommended “that a revision of the present street categorisation and height limitation of the whole Dingli street is carried out prior to a decision being taken” on the Art Nouveau houses. He further recommended that “abutting properties are not assigned different street categorization, to ensure homogenous planning solutions.”

This recommendation to revise the Local Plan for Dingli Street coincides with the formal request made by both Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar and the Sliema Local Council to MEPA to commence the review of the Sliema Local Plan. FAA urges MEPA to commence this review as soon as possible, and furthermore MEPA is called on to desist in issuing permits which might violate the intentions of the review, as per Structure Plan regulation BEN 4 “Additionally, permission will not normally be given unless the Planning Authority is satisfied that such permission would be unlikely to compromise the objectives of the review forming part of Local Plan preparation.”

FAA looks forward to seeing every part of Malta and Gozo regulated by a revised Local Plan which protects the rights of developers and residents alike. FAA also calls for the long-overdue start-up of the Heritage Fund which was established twenty years ago to provide financial assistance for the owners of heritage properties, however was never activated.

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