An application that would see the Panorama Hotel in Mellieħa rise to eight storeys has continued to draw objections, notably from the local council,  the heritage watchdog and neighbours.

Located on top of a ridge close to the Mellieħa parish church, the hotel was built in 1966 and commands breathtaking views of Għadira Bay. A development application was filed last August to build two additional storeys, only for the proposal to be revised a few weeks later to add another floor.

The application was filed by 2018 Eurovision Song Contest participant Christabelle Borg on behalf of her father, Vincent Borg of V&C Developments.

Under a 2014 policy, hotels could be allowed to build two extra storeys, if not more. If the Planning Authority were to issue the permit, the structure would significantly alter the village core skyline due to its proximity to the parish church, a prominent landmark, objectors argued.

In its submission, the local council said the proposal would be in breach of the height limitation adjustment policy for hotels.

In particular, it pointed out that site area covering 424.3 square metres was by far below the minimum permissible 5,000 square metres and that it was not surrounded by existing or planned streets. A further objection was that the addition would negatively impact the infrastructure of the surrounding residential area.

The proposal would be in breach of the height limitation adjustment policy for hotels

The council also said the site did not accommodate standalone buildings, flagging its location on a ridge edge.

This point was also raised by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, which noted the hotel’s “extremely prominent” location and remarked that an additional three storeys would “further negatively impact” long-distance views of the nearby Grade 1 scheduled parish church. The Superintendence also felt that the application infringed the height limitation adjustment policy for hotels.

Unsurprisingly, the proposal fuelled objections from residents, concerned about its aesthetic impact, increased traffic due to higher commercial activity and its potential of exacerbating a shortage of parking spaces.

One resident warned that unrestrained development might, in the long run, undermine the tourism and accommodation industry itself.

“Tourists come to Malta to see the natural beauty not the height of the hotels and the concrete buildings. We are becoming a Dubai in the Mediterranean Sea, which, in my opinion, is not acceptable,” an objector remarked.

Though the application is still pending, Planning Minister Ian Borg recently said a preliminary assessment indicated the proposal would not qualify under the terms of the height limitation adjustment policy for hotels.

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