A proposed six-storey touristic development risks ruining one of the “best-preserved urban and rural enclaves in Pietà” and compromising nearby historic buildings, a heritage group has warned.

The application, which is still being assessed by the Planning Authority, targets a two-storey house in a stepped alleyway off the Pietà marina, close to a number of scheduled properties, including the Grade 1 listed Villa Frère.

It includes the demolition of part of the existing building and an outdoor pool and snack area behind the property on Sqaq Nru 3, Triq ix-Xatt.

The proposed development is close to two others which NGOs have also highlighted as posing a risk to the remaining elements of the area’s historic streetscape: a seven-storey apartment block on the seafront approved last year and a 10-storey retirement home still under consideration.

Friends of Villa Frère, a voluntary group responsible for the upkeep and restoration of the villa’s historic gardens, has said that the new application would create a ‘pencil development’ in a preserved row of buildings, most having high heritage value, and destroy one of the last remaining ancient fields below St Luke’s Hospital.

In a representation to the PA, Friends of Villa Frère said that the development would also destroy one of the few remaining historic vistas of Msida Creek from the villa and compromise other historic buildings, including Villa Medina and its extensive garden.

It will destroy one of the last remaining ancient fields below St Luke’s Hospital

The organisation has previously raised similar concerns regarding the plans for a 10-storey retirement home close to the Villa Frère gardens.

It says the 18th-century Villa Ciantar (Zamitello) garden would be demolished, except for a few architectural features, to make way for the towering structure, which would also seriously compromise the adjoining Villa Frère.

The PA last year approved a seven-storey block of apartments in place of a Grade 2 scheduled townhouse which forms part of a well-preserved row of townhouses on the Pietà seafront, directly below the new proposed development. An appeal against the decision filed by Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar is still pending, but the group reported in January that demolition works on the property had already begun.

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