The government has denied claims that it intends to sell the Institute of Tourism Studies building in St George’s Bay to a developer who is planning to replace it with a hotel.

Three different sources told The Sunday Times of Malta the site had attracted interest from Seabank Group chairman Silvio Debono.

Such a move would require a parliamentary resolution since the government would need to issue a call to all potential parties interested in its acquisition.

Both the government and Mr Debono denied such an agreement had been reached.

“There is no form of agreement or arrangement with any entity, whether private or public, regarding the use of the ITS building,” a spokesman for the Office of the Prime Minister said.

The Seabank Group owns and operates three resorts and has an asset base in excess of €80 million.

Should the project go ahead it would be located close to the controversial large development earmarked for St George’s Bay, currently being considered by Mepa.

St George’s Bay will be a war zone of development

The sources who spoke to The Sunday Times of Malta yesterday said St George’s Bay could become a “war zone of development”. The application submitted by developer Anton Camilleri over four sites in St George’s Bay would see development stretch from the top of the promenade where St George’s Bay Hotel is located, down to the bay including the gardens of the protected Villa Rosa, and also Cresta Quay where a new hotel would be built.

Traffic experts and mayors have expressed concern over the massive development saying it would exacerbate traffic problems in the area.

St Julian’s mayor Peter Bonello yesterday said such a massive project would certainly create problems, although a project on such a scale required more time to study.

Apart from the obvious traffic congestion, Mr Bonello referred to the protected cave known as Għar Ħarq Ħammiem located underneath part of Moynihan House, which would also be demolished if the project goes ahead. Għar Ħarq Ħammiem cave is the only known fully submerged terrestrial cavern in Malta.

Swieqi mayor Noel Muscat and Pembroke mayor Dean Hili also voiced opposition to the project saying the resulting traffic problems would exacerbate the suffering of residents and motorists.

Traffic expert Hugh Arnett said the project would require a totally new access road into St Julian’s which taxpayers may need to fund, which was unfair.

If a deal is struck for the sale of the ITS building, the traffic concerns are expected to be amplified.

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