The developers of the former Jerma Hotel, in Marsascala, have justified their proposed 15-storey apartment and hotel development by arguing that a lower profile would have taken up too much space.

A project description statement published on behalf of developers Porto Notos Ltd states that alternative designs for the project had focused on medium-rise buildings taking up a significant portion of the peninsula. 

“The original proposals respected the medium-rise policy that is applicable to Marsascala but the scale of the project was too large and created no public open space,” the developers said.

Marsascala is not one of the locations designated for high-rise buildings under the floor area ratio policy.

The developers are attempting to circumvent this restriction by basing their application on a different policy, which allows existing hotels to extend two floors over and above the local plan height limitation.

They acknowledge that the building’s height could negatively impact long-important long-distance views, particularly given the presence of the historic St Thomas Tower and nearby residences but they argue that the existing derelict hotel poses a similar hindrance.

The proposed development, which has yet to be subjected to an environmental impact assessment, would see the demolition of the current abandoned structure, which has remained standing in a state of decay despite efforts by the authorities to force its removal.

In its place, developers are planning 166 luxury apartments and 250 hotel rooms in a single 15-storey block, with the residences spread over 13 floors and the hotel continuing up to the top.

The project will also include underground parking, a business centre on part of the first floor, a public chapel with “extensive and uninterrupted” seaviews and a 3,000 square metre beach lido.

The developers stressed that the beach would not be privatised and that all existing foreshore access would be retained. 

“Access to the coastline will be facilitated through the new public open spaces,” they said.

Unlike previous proposals for the site, the project does not include land reclamation work or breakwaters.

This is the latest in a series of attempts to redevelop the Jerma, once one of the island’s largest and most prestigious hotels. 

An earlier plan for three towers and extensive land-reclamation was shot down by the Planning Authority as a non-starter and the current proposal was endorsed in principle by the Marsascala local council in 2017.

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