Developer Keith Grima has rescinded his application to turn townhouses in Saqajja Square and St Augustine’s Avenue to a boutique hotel after widespread objections.
The application, submitted by architect Justin Spiteri, would have added another two floors to townhouses numbered 14 and 15 on Saqajja Square, and townhouses 12 and 13 on St Augustine’s Avenue.
Hopes for its rejection were initially dashed when the country’s Superintendence for Cultural Heritage gave the green light and backed the project. This was after Grima removed one floor and amended plans for the garden.
Grima backed down thanks to the concerted effort by the Local Council, residents of Rabat, a number of local NGOs, and minister Ian Borg, who described the project as a ‘non-starter’.
The uniform row of terraced houses in Saqqajja Ħill are a crucial ingredient to Rabat’s local character and aesthetic. The picturesque and historic houses that line both streets have been designed by Andrea Vassallo and documented in Leonard Mahoney’s ‘2000 Years of Maltese Architecture’.
The Rabat Local Council is currently pushing to get this area scheduled. Scheduled houses are still not immune, which would make it harder for speculators to get applications approved in this area.
The villas and gardens also lie in an Urban Conservation Area and are scheduled by the Government in legal notice 766 of 1998 as areas of archaeological importance to Rabat and Mdina.
This was not the first Hotel application in the area. Currently, there is a pending case for a five-star hotel with 110 rooms built over five floors on the area currently where the now-closed Tattingers club and some adjacent properties were situated.
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