Dingli residents are up in arms about a proposal for a five-storey block at the entrance of this rural village, saying it would ruin the skyline.

Objectors who spoke to Times of Malta on condition of anonymity expressed concern that the developer was trying to “circumvent planning laws” by splitting the project in two parts. Having already secured a permit to build three storeys, the applicant has filed a fresh application to construct two more levels.

The controversy first erupted at the end of 2018, when Paul Borg filed an application for the demolition of a one-storey townhouse located in Triq il-Liedna, corner with Triq il-Kbira, to make way for the construction of a five-storey block with the upper two levels receded.

The proposal was withdrawn in the wake of the public outcry and objections by residents, similar to the ones being raised right now.

A few months down the line, a fresh application was filed, this time by Christopher Schembri, for the construction of a three-storey block on the same site, albeit retaining part of the existing façade. The application for this scaled-down development – for which no objections were raised – was approved.

However, the controversy reignited last January when Schembri filed a fresh application to build an additional two storeys, consisting of a duplex penthouse with splash pool.

In its submission, the Dingli local council noted that this proposal was very similar to the first one which had been withdrawn as it would also result in a five-storey development.

The council referred to objections raised by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, saying these still applied. They included the site’s close vicinity to Dingli’s urban conservation area, the impact it would have on the two-storey streetscape and the project’s overall massive scale.

The council also referred to the 2015 Development Control Design Policy, Guidance and Standards which state that in the case of sites adjacent to urban conservation areas, the buildings shall not be higher than the height of the predominant buildings located within the stretch of the perimeter block.

Moreover, concerns were raised as the site is at the top of a hill, meaning that the development would have an even more significant visual impact.

The council is insisting the building should be of “moderate height” and in line with the adjacent streetscapes.

Close to 100 objections have been submitted so far as part of the public consultation period which closes tomorrow.

The overwhelming reasons cited the visual impact which this “monstrosity” would have on the rural surroundings.

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