Bulky Ramla Bay Hotel Extension Will Drastically Change Marfa Views

Six years after issuing planning permission for a controversial heart-shaped extension to the Ramla Bay Hotel, the planning authority is set to approve another application to replace the adjacent four-storey hotel designed at the originally by Richard England, by three tall seven stories. blocks.

A case officer report endorsed by the PA’s Development Directorate hails the design of the Ramla extension, which will dramatically change the iconic views of Marfa seen from the Gozo ferry. The Planning Council will make a final decision on May 5.

As proposed by architect Ray Demicoli, who also designed the first phase approved in 2016, the new development will include 400 bedrooms, banquet space, restaurants and new kitchen facilities, a gym and an indoor swimming pool, parking lots and new landscaping. The new development will complement the 100 apartments approved in 2019.

The report advises the Planning Council to approve the second phase, describing the design as “innovative”, which will contribute “to a new standard of high quality living and livable accommodation”.

According to the report, “the historic building will merge with its context due to the extruded organic shapes of the promontory morphology”.

But these conclusions contrast with the verdict of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage in February, following the publication of the first photomontages of the project.

The changes, which include the removal of a block of restaurants near the coast, fall short of the more sweeping changes requested by the SCH which called for lowering of the proposed heights and considerable redesign and terracing of the development.

The SCH had warned that views of Marfa as seen from Comino and from craft in the Gozo Channel will forever be ‘conditioned and marred by the enormous volume stretching above the existing skyline’.

Malta’s cultural heritage watchdog has warned that the development “will overturn the current and long-standing perception of Malta as seen from the ‘il-Fliegu’ crossing point”.

The Superintendence stressed the importance of the cultural heritage of this visual experience which is “being eradicated”, noting that the perception and legibility of this crest is a long-standing experience that contributes to the perception and the Maltese identity.

The Superintendence considered that the visual impact “was negative, diminishing the panoramic and landscape value of this stretch of coastline, and further damaging the cultural landscape of this area”.

The Palestinian Authority’s Development Management Directorate responded that issues raised by the Cultural Heritage Superintendence in terms of visual appearance fall under the jurisdiction of the Planning Authority.

But a visual impact assessment of the latest shots and photomontages conducted by ADI consultants still considers the impact on views from the Gozo ferry to be “of major significance”.

According to the report, compared to the current situation from the point of view, “the diagram appears more voluminous and, although it remains within the footprint of the site, the perception is that of a larger structure which has extended in the space”.

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