Developer db Group has said no excavation is being carried out on an underground Cold War bunker at the site of its controversial Pembroke project, after NGOs sounded the alarm over rock-cutters working on the site.

Heritage groups last week called on the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage to issue an Emergency Conservation Order to protect the previously undeclared bunker, which housed a sub-station in the 1950s, and a 1930s engine room which were revealed underneath the St George Barracks.

“These pleas seem to have gone unnoticed as the rock cutters gouge out another part of Malta's heritage,” Moviment Graffitti said on Thursday.

However, a db Group spokesman told Times of Malta it was “absolutely untrue” that the bunker was being demolished. “No works will be carried out on the bunker until the Superintendence expresses its views,” the spokesman said.

Photo taken by MEP candidate Arnold Cassola of rock-cutters on site on Thursday.Photo taken by MEP candidate Arnold Cassola of rock-cutters on site on Thursday.

The spokesman also insisted works on the barracks, which are Grade II scheduled, were fully in line with regulations.

Moviment Graffitti had said the works were taking place before the conclusion of a court appeal by objectors to the project, a decision on which is expected in June.

The db Group’s City Centre project - including a 37-storey tower and 17-storey hotel on the site of the former Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) campus in St George’s Bay - was approved by the Planning Authority last year.

Following an appeal by NGOs and local councils that had vehemently opposed the development, a review tribunal ruled in March that the project could go ahead with minor changes - including a height reduction and increase in open space - and fresh clearance from transport authorities.

A further appeal was lodged in court by objectors, and is still ongoing.

In April, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage ordered a stop to works due to a lack of supervision by an archaeological monitor.

This, it said, was a “serious breach of permit conditions” and might have caused damage to archaeological features, which also include the Grade 1 scheduled Ħarq Ħammiem cave.

db group had followed the Superintendence's requests and is now fully compliant.


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