Pembroke mayor Dean Hili has announced that he will be voting against db Group’s proposed 38-storey tower and 18-storey hotel in St George’s Bay when the case comes before the Planning Authority.

As representative of the Pembroke council, Dr Hili will be one of 14 members of the board, assuming full attendance, when the application for the former Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) site is decided on September 20.

The authority’s case officer has recommended the controversial application for approval, concluding that it was in line with all relevant policies and would create a “landmark building” in an area designated for high-rise developments.

Dr Hili said on Thursday that following a four-hour preliminary board meeting, there remained significant concerns and “fundamental differences in opinion”, and that the local council’s position remained against the project.

Greater efforts must be made to consider the cumulative effect of the high-rise applications being submitted

The Pembroke mayor argued that the project’s design was incongruous with its primarily residential surroundings and reiterated concerns over the lack of a master plan for the broader area of Paceville, Pembroke, St Julian’s and Swieqi.

“Greater efforts must be made to consider the cumulative effect of the high-rise applications being submitted in these areas, not limited only to the visual perspective,” he said.

Dr Hili highlighted concerns over the tunnel proposed to alleviate traffic generated by the development, but for which a separate planning application would have to be submitted.

“At this stage, the tunnel is not a condition of the project but a suggestion that may or may not materialise, before or after the project is completed,” he said.

“We believe that this should be considered today as the design of the tunnel, which should allow drivers to reach Paceville from the Coast Road, will be seriously compromised if the db Group permit is issued without it being taken into account.”

The €300 million City Centre project has been the source of significant controversy over the €60 million valuation of the land given to the developers on a 99-year concession. Calculations based on the government’s Paceville master plan put the actual value at €212 million.

More than 4,000 people have submitted objections to the PA – the largest number for any planning application ever considered – including over the visual impact, traffic, noise and dust during construction, overshadowing on nearby residences, and the extension of intensive commercial activity from Paceville.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us