University students will be holding a funeral-style demonstration on Friday to 'mourn' the demolition of a once-popular bookshop right outside the campus and its planned replacement by an 11-storey hotel.

"This is a metaphorical death of student interests" the University Students Council said, arguing that the site should, in terms of planning policies, have been used for education-related development.

The new hotel will be replacing the Mireva bookshop, which sold textbooks, and academic literature for many years before closing down. 

Last year, Gozitan developer Mark Agius, better known as ‘Ta’ Dirjanu’ applied with the PA for permission to add another floor  (05079/22)to the building, despite having already secured an additional two floors over and above the permitted maximum for the area in his original planning application.

The application caused uproar among students, staff and the public, with many calling out the 'tragedy' that the University of Malta was left without a bookshop on campus.

In November, the Planning Authority approved the application, despite the development being located just outside the gates of the University  campus, which is a residential area designed as a Student Housing Area by local plans. 

Such areas must prioritise student-focused land uses, such as bookshops or stationaries, not hotels, which are deemed to be tourism-oriented projects.

A proposal to extend the hotel by an additional floor was approved in November. Photo: PAA proposal to extend the hotel by an additional floor was approved in November. Photo: PA

The University Student Council (KSU) said this was the final nail in the coffin, and called the public to participate in a ‘memorial-styled demonstration’ on Friday and for people to bring a candle or flower.

 “While realistically this is a student area, this development shows no interest whatsoever in students’ wellbeing,” KSU president Jeremy Mifsud Bonnici told Times of Malta. 

“We want to show our disapproval once more of the development."

He said the space could have been developed into affordable accommodation for Gozitan students, or a working space for students. 

"Instead, now we have two hotels a corner away from each other," he said, referring to Park Heights Hotel located in front of the skate park a few hundred metres away. 

In a Facebook post, the Student Council said the demonstration, at 10am, will symbolise the "metaphorical death of student interests" whose pleas have been neglected and ignored. The 'funeral' will start on campus and proceed to the site of the former bookshop.


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