The Msida local council has called for an investigation into the disappearance of two historic statues from the facade of a building proposed for demolition.

The statues of St Rocco and St Publius were listed in the National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Island in 2012 and their cultural heritage value assessment was considered “high”.

They previously adorned the facade of an early 19th century residence on Marina Street, Msida. An application for the demolition of the property has recently been submitted and is being screened by the Planning Authority.

The Msida council condemned the statues’ removal and insisted that replicas should be put in place if and when the building was redeveloped.

It also insisted that owners of properties in that key part of Msida should be made to retain the existing style when redeveloping buildings, with any additions complementing the existing architecture.

Cultural heritage is being completely disregarded

The disappearance was first highlighted by a group of 15 cultural organisations – including Din l-Art Ħelwa and Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar – on Wednesday.

The organisations, which also included the Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers, said the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage had been informed and demanded that an emergency conservation order be issued on the property without delay, insisting no effort should be spared to recover the two missing statues.

“This case is a worrying example of the way cultural heritage is being completely disregarded when it comes to redevelopment of old buildings and is symptomatic of an attitude where breaking the law is the rule of the day,” the organisations said.

The statement was also signed by Wirt iż-Żejtun, Friends of Villa Frere, the Archaeological Society, Wirt Għawdex, the Malta Association of Professional Conservator-Restorers, Wirt San Ġwann and representatives of the University’s architecture and art history academics and students.


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