The former Institute for Tourism Studies in St Julian’s, a scheduled property which will now give way to the massive db project, has been left exposed to the elements, risking damage to its interior.
When a newspaper crew visited the site on Friday, they found windows and doors of the former St George’s Barracks gaping open.
The db Group’s 37-storey tower will be built on the site of the former ITS campus.
The condition of the historic building is the subject of an application filed to the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, which has accepted the request for a site visit to assess whether measures need to be taken to protect the property.
The application was filed by lawyers of appelants against the db project. One of them, Claire Bonello, described the building as being of enormous historical importance and a lasting example of British military architecture.
“We would want to avert a situation where the interior is left exposed to the elements so that eventually developers can say it is in a dilapidated state and that is why we asked for immediate urgent access on site. As appellants we find it repugnant to see how there is an attempt to obliterate a whole locality's historical memory,” she said yesterday.
We want to avert a situation where the interior is left exposed to the elements so that developers can say it is in a dilapidated state
The foundation stone for the barracks was laid by the Prince of Wales and they served as a hospital in World War I. “Vera Brittain served here and it inspired her pacifism and her writings. Sister Mary Martin also served here and it inspired her to start her order,” said Dr Bonello.
“Yes, the barracks are living proof of conflict and service and history and it is sickening to see that they are being demolished and a pathetic little remnant left in front of the [db property] pool, completely devoid of context and integrity.”
According to law, whoever is found guilty of wilfully damaging or destroying property of cultural value could face a fine of between €1,164 and €116,468 or to imprisonment not exceeding six years.
Db’s €300 million City Centre project was approved by 10 votes to four last September, despite an unprecedented 4,500 objections from the public, local councils and NGOs over the scale and impact on residents, as well as traffic generation and adherence with planning policy.
In an article in The Sunday Times of Malta, Arnold Cassola writes that prior to even being granted a permit, the db Group had “nonchalantly” stripped the scheduled ITS building.
The db group on Saturday denied Prof. Cassola’s assertion that the Planning Authority had imposed a condition that all apertures be boarded up. His piece was already in print when the denial was received.