An 18th century house of character in Victoria's ‘It‐Tokk’ is to be converted into a boutique hotel as commercial interests continue to encroach on the newly restored Ċittadella ditch, according to an NGO.

Wirt Għawdex said in a statement it did not object to the rehabilitation of an unused and derelict house but it could not close its eyes to the flagrant abuse by the authorities in granting permission for alterations which affected other important monuments, in this case the Ċittadella.

As part of this permit, the Planning Authority approved the opening of a door and two windows on the back wall of the property which abutted the Ċittadella ditch.

It also approved the construction of additional storeys which would obliterate the view of the historic clock tower from It‐Tokk, Gozo's main square.

Should this new doorway onto the terrace eventually lead to tables and chairs being set out for hotel guests, it would mean an obstruction on the ramparts, a popular walk around the Ċittadella.

This would also lead to excessive wear and tear on the parts of the original walls that were carefully preserved during the restoration.

Another important negative impact was that it would now be pointless to secure the ditch by closing the gates at night since security could be breached through the hotel aperture by anyone at the hotel at any time.

Wirt Għawdex pointed out that although the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, had initially aired its concerns and recommended refusal, stating the project would greatly impact the Ċittadella, barely eight days later it retracted all objections stating that the development did not indicate any evident threat to cultural heritage.

“This is totally incomprehensible since none of the original concerns were addressed and still exist,” Wirt Għawdex said.

It appealed to the Superintendence and the PA to honour their constitutional duty and stop flagrant abuses and the "systematic rape" of Malta's heritage.

"Precedence" must stop being used as an excuse to allow further detrimental permits, it said.

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