Workers have been caught on camera knocking down parts of Villa St Ignatius, just days after residents went public with calls to protect the historic Balluta landmark.
Footage shot on Saturday afternoon shows two workmen on the roof of the historic building, hacking at the masonry and knocking entire bricks down to the ground.
Residents who contacted the Planning Authority and police told Times of Malta that workers laid down their tools and left the building after being ordered to do so by a case officer - only to continue where they left off the moment the PA official left the area.
"We're at our wit's end," one resident told Times of Malta. "It's absolutely unbelievable. The moment the officer left, the workers returned and got right back to it with complete impunity."
Sliema councillor Michael Briguglio tweeted about the event, saying workers stopped at 3.30pm only to resume half an hour later.
Works stopped by enforcement officer at 1530 . 30m later the workmen returned and continued https://t.co/uY3gKcP5jA— Michael Briguglio (@BriguglioMike) December 2, 2017
Earlier this week, Times of Malta reported that locals had banded together with heritage NGO Din L-Art Ħelwa to urge authorities to schedule the building.
Although no formal development application has been presented for the site, residents say the word on the grapevine is that plans are afoot to have it knocked down.
Last July, owners were granted permission to knock down some dangerous slabs and internal walls at the villa, following a court order to that effect.
Planning Authority authorisation for the works was granted on July 17 and only concerned internal walls, rather than the external ones seen being hacked down in the video.
Works were meant to have been completed within 60 days of the authorisation being issued.
Villa St Ignatius is believed to be one of the earliest buildings in Malta to display Neo-Gothic motifs. It was listed as a landmark building in a document dating back to 1839.
The Planning Authority was asked to comment but had not replied at the time of writing.
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