A proposal to redevelop a hotel and bungalows on Comino will see the footprint of the original complex reduced overall, the developers behind the  controversial project have said. 

In a statement on Friday, Hili Ventures said that overall the total land area of their new hotel will be reduced by 5,122 square metres, with no planned land reclamation to execute the project. 

The company is seeking planning permission to build a luxury hotel at San Niklaw bay and bungalows at Santa Marija bay, on sites previously used by a 1960s hotel that shut down some years ago. 

It first unveiled its plans in 2020 but opposition remained muted until recently, when activists and NGOs rallied support to oppose the project, saying that the “monstrous” development is incompatible with the special protection afforded to Comino as a rural conservation area, a nature reserve, a special area of conservation, a special protection area, an important bird area of international and EU importance, a Natura 2000 site, a bird sanctuary and a dark sky heritage site.

The planning application has received thousands of objections, with Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba throwing his weight behind objectors, calling the development plans for Comino “stupid” and “senseless”. 

Developer says project is smaller

In a factsheet distributed on Friday, Hili Ventures sought to assuage concerns by pointing to the reduced footprint of their proposal. 

Hili said that the current hotel footprint occupies 29,649 square metres in San Niklaw bay and 16,165 square metres in Santa Maria bay.

The redevelopment will see this revised to 22,495 square metres in San Niklaw bay and 18,197 square metres in Santa Maria Bay, it said. 

Therefore, despite the 2,032 square metre increase in Santa Maria Bay, the overall footprint will nonetheless decrease by 5,122 square metres. 

The previous hotel, the developer said, used to be able to accommodate 192 guests with a total of 100 hotel rooms while the new development will be able to accommodate a maximum of 142 guests in 71 rooms. 

The number of bungalows has increased from 13 to 19 and will now be able to accommodate a total of 116 guests where it previously could only house a maximum of 92. 

The project, Hili said will implement a sustainable energy plan and is intent on respecting the Natura 2000 management plan for Comino and any other relevant strategies for the island. 

The existing structures, they said, will be carefully dismantled while as much construction waste as possible will be re-used within the project. To minimise waste, the project will also be making use of prefabricated construction methods. 

Public access to the hotel and the shoreline will be restricted during the construction phase in the interest of health and safety, the statement said, with the construction phase set to take two and a half years to complete once planning permissions are obtained. 

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