Plans to build a nine-storey hotel along the Pieta’ seafront have set off alarm bells among heritage activists who are painstakingly restoring a historic villa right next door.

A planning application to turn Giardino Zammitello into a giant hotel would “all but destroy what remains of Villa Frere and its historic vistas”, heritage architect Edward Said told the almost 2,000 people who form part of a Friends of Villa Frere group on Facebook.

Read: Beyond the walls of Villa Frère

“Villa Frere and Giardino Zammitello are YIN AND YANG,” the architect said, warning that the planning application would lead to the “complete destruction of this baroque garden, save a few token relics”.

The historic gardens.The historic gardens.

Hotel plans are the second attempt to develop the 200-year-old Giardino Zammittello, after plans to create a home for the elderly at the site faltered.

The new plans would see much of the house’s garden dug up to make room for a spa, gym and external pool, and introduce underground parking, restaurant and business centre. Applicants say they will retain and restore a tower and much of the elevated walkway in the garden.

Villa Frere, whose gardens lie alongside those of Giardino Zammitello, is currently being restored by a team of volunteers led by Mr Said and garden expert Fernando Mifsud, after being allowed to fall into ruin.

Objections can be filed to the Planning Authority from February 6 until March 8.

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