Din l-Art Ħelwa has expressed concern over an application by an international school to build an extension on the grounds of the scheduled former Royal Navy hospital in Mtarfa.
The heritage NGO strongly objected to the proposal, saying that the Grade 2 building and its immediate surroundings ought to be afforded protection.
It was reacting to an application filed by Haileybury Malta Ltd, which was granted a 40-year concession in 2019. The company won a tender for the opening of an international school to cater mostly for children of expats living and working in Malta.
At the time, the education ministry had said that Haileybury, which already operates similar schools in Kazakhstan and the UK, will be investing more than €15 million in the rehabilitation of the former hospital.
It originally aimed to start its operations in September 2021 but this has been pushed to the upcoming scholastic year.
The company is seeking a planning permit to construct an extension to the existing building consisting of two floors housing a sports hall with a gym, canteen, kitchen, stores and ancillary facilities.
In November 2021, the company was granted a permit to restore and rehabilitate the old three-storey school building for the creation of kindergarten, junior school and senior school classrooms, a sixth form centre, music rooms, library, media centre, theatre, drama room, dance studio and administrative offices.
The company is now also seeking a permit to make a number of internal alterations, the construction of a new lift and extension to the roof of one of the existing staircases, as well as redesign soft landscape areas.
DLĦ said in its objection that the visuals provided by the applicant showed a change in the skyline and the general formation of the scheduled building as seen across long and short-distance views.
“Such drastic alterations are deemed completely unacceptable and fail to adhere to policies regulating what interventions may be considered on such a heritage building. The proposal runs counter to provisions for Grade 2 listed buildings,” the group said.
Grade 2 scheduled buildings usually are of architectural or historical interest or contribute to the visual image of an urban conservation area (UCA). According to planning policies, permission to demolish such buildings is not normally
allowed while alterations to the interior will be allowed if proposed to be carried out sensitively and causing the least detriment to the character and architectural homogeneity of the building.
The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage did not object to the proposed extension while the case officer recommended the application for approval.
It will be determined by the PA board on Thursday (today).
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