Historic buildings should not make way for housing apartments in already-overcrowded Cospicua, a museum curator in the fortified city is insisting.

John Vella, of Bir Mula Heritage, yesterday condemned a project that would see the demolition of houses in the Santa Liena area and the construction of 56 housing units and 120 garages.

His comments come three years since the planning authority approved an application filed by the Housing Authority to renew a development permit granted in 2007. The 2007 permit was also an approved renewal of a previous permit which had been granted in 2002.

The location of the development stretches across Hanover, San Mark, l-Irlandi┼╝i and Santa Liena streets.

“Despite the opposition over the years by local entities and residents, work will go ahead as planned. This is shameful, considering that there was never an impact assessment of this project, as confirmed by a parliamentary question answered in 2011,” he said.

Despite the opposition over the years by local entities and residents, work will go ahead as planned. This is shameful

Mr Vella said the project could create a precedent for the Cottonera and Valletta area, which were already reportedly overcrowded with apartment blocks.

Mr Vella fears that the project will increase crowding in the city, bring more social cases to the area and also damage historical remains in the vicinity such as an underground Byzantine chapel.

Bir Mula Heritage has drawn up an inventory of Cospicua’s historic buildings and cultural heritage which it will be passing on to the Cottonera Rehabilitation Committee.

The list will be presented on May 18 – international museums day – at Bir Mula Heritage Museum on St Margerita Hill.

Mr Vella is urging the authorities and the private sector to save the locality’s architectural characteristics and invest into conserving such buildings. This could be done through new schemes for resident owners, proprietors and future owners.

If houses had to be torn down, they should be replaced by houses, not apartments, and the new buildings should include the city’s architectural characteristics, he added.