An eight-storey hotel in Mellieħa is set to get the Planning Authority’s go-ahead despite having been recommended for refusal for breaching the area’s height limitation policy.

The plans, by J Portelli Projects, include 120 residential units, shops, a hotel, underground parking and garages on a vacant 3,600 square metre plot close to the Valyou supermarket.

Described by the Mellieħa local council, which once sought to use the land for community facilities, as overly-intensive and incompatible with its surroundings, the project had been headed for refusal after a negative recommendation by the PA case officer.

However, at a hearing on Thursday, a majority of the PA board indicated their intention to overturn the recommendation and approve the project. A formal vote will be taken in the coming weeks.

The case officer had concluded that the eight storeys proposed fell foul of the height limitation policy, which allows three floors and, under a special adjustment policy for hotels, an extra two floors over and above that.

Nevertheless, the case officer found the project acceptable in principle from a planning point of view and concluded that it was unlikely to have significant environmental or traffic impacts.

The project architect had been advised to redesign the project to address the height limitation problems, but declined to do so, maintaining that the plans were already in line with policy.

Nationalist MP and former Mellieħa mayor Robert Cutajar, who objected to the project during the hearing, told Times of Malta the previously government-owned land had in the past been earmarked by the council for a project to benefit the community.

He also pointed to changes to the planning policy for the Tal-Masrija area in 2015, which he said had created a precedent, the effects of which were now being felt.

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