The cultural heritage watchdog has called for the illegal ‘circus-like’ additions at Il-Fortizza in Sliema to be removed, after the owners of a restaurant within the historic building applied to regularise the structures.
The British artillery battery, built between 1872 and 1886, is scheduled at Grade 1 level for its high historical and architectural value, and has in recent decades been leased to catering establishments.
An application, currently being considered by the Planning Authority, seeks to sanction a glazed surrounding added to a wood-and-canvas tent along the side of the battery, as well as an extension of the structure, and new outdoor tables, chairs and umbrellas, all added without a permit.
The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage (SCH) has objected to the sanctioning, arguing that the illegal additions were not compatible with such a significant architectural monument and should be removed.
“Some of the structures at il-Fortizza, including unauthorised tables and chairs, entrance tent and funfair equipment, vaguely evoke the appearance of a circus [and] are incongruous with the Sliema Point Battery,” the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage said.
“The outdoor structures detract from the visual appearance of the scheduled building, increasing the material and visual clutter around the monument.”
The sanctioning request has also drawn objections from the Sliema Heritage Society and NGO Futur Ambjent Wieħed, which said the additions “practically obliterate the view of the historic fort” and gave the impression of a “crass mess wrapped in plastic”.
The Sliema local council similarly said the proposal violated planning policy that required such developments “to improve the townscape and environment in historic cores” and to “protect and enhance the character and amenity of distinct urban areas”.
Just last February, the PA ordered the removal of several additional tents which had appeared on the promenade in front of the battery, after a complaint by the council and the Sliema Heritage Society.
The sanctioning application is open for public consultation until July 5.
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