The Planning Authority will on Thursday decide on an application for an eight-storey hotel in Mellieħa, which is recommended to be refused for breaching the height limitation policy.

Spread over a vacant 3,600 square metre plot close to the Valyou supermarket, the proposal – submitted by Gozitan development company J Portelli Projects – includes 120 residential units, shops, a hotel, underground parking and garages.

The Mellieħa local council, which had once hoped to acquire the previously government-owned land to build a new community centre, has objected to the development, describing it as “intensive and incompatible” with its surroundings.

The council also argues that planning policy does not allow for new hotels in designated residential areas, and has called for the hotel component and its restaurant, spa, gym and indoor pool facilities to be dropped from the plans.

Despite recommending the plans for refusal, the PA case officer did not back up the council’s arguments, concluding that the project was acceptable in principle from a planning point of view.

Intensive and incompatible with its surroundings

The Design Advisory Committee and Environment and Resources Authority also raised no objections, with the latter concluding that the project was unlikely to have significant environmental or traffic impacts.

However, the case officer concluded that the eight storeys proposed fell foul of the height limitation policy. Buildings in the area are allowed three floors, while hotels are allowed two floors over and above that due to a specific height limitation adjustment policy.

The project architect was advised to redesign the project to address these issues, including eliminating the eighth floor of the hotel section and apartments on the fifth and sixth floors, and redesigning other parts of the development to include receded floors.

However, the architect maintained that the project was in line with policy, and declined to put forward the requested changes, leading the case officer to recommend refusal.

Thursday's expected decision comes after a controversial proposal to add three storeys to another Mellieħa hotel was suspended at the applicant’s request after indications that it too would breach the height limitation policy.

The Panorama Hotel, situated on a ridge close to the Mellieħa parish church, was seeking to raise its height to eight storeys, drawing objections from the local council, heritage watchdog and neighbours.

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