Thursday, 1 August 2019, 11:24 Last update: about 52 minutes ago
An application that would renew an already approved permit which was issued on 18 July 2014 for the development of the Hal-Ferh tourism complex was approved by the Planning Authority on Thursday.
The applicant’s architect – David Xuereb – explained that nothing changed from the permit that was approved back in 2014. The site is located in the coastal rural area within the Pwales Valley at the south-western part of the Mellieha Local Council area. The site lies to the east of the popular sandy beach of Golden Bay and the Radisson SAS Golden Sands Resort.
The site consists of the southern part of the British military complex known as the Lower Camp which was converted into the Hal Ferh Holiday Complex in the 1970s and 1980s. The Complex is mostly taken up by barracks and modern buildings small in footprint and height, detached and alternating with landscaped areas nurturing mature trees, dense vegetation and derelict areas with little greenery.
The development is of a touristic nature, they explained, adding that the proposed vacation resort will include a total of 228 units with ancillary facilities including restaurant, small convenience shop, pools and bars, spa and underground parking facilities totaling to 293 parking spaces. The majority of units are one and two storeys high and the ribbon development encircles a more open area. Within the ribbon building is an extensive area of landscaping in which a number of smaller private pavilions, the spa and pool facilities are located.
A running track will be placed on the roofs of the outer units.
The case officer explained that during the development brief stage many years ago, the Superintendance of Cultural Heritage had analysed a number of buildings in the area, and found that a number of the buildings on site did not have a heritage value worth preserving.
The chapel within the Hal Ferh Redevelopment Project however shall be retained, restored and integrated with the development.
The original permit had a validity period of five years from the date of publication of the decision, but will cease to be valid if the development is not completed by the end of this validity period. Hence a renewal application was filed.
The original application considered the redevelopment of the Hal Ferh Complex “with the aim of replacing the existing derelict Hal Ferh Tourist Complex into a high quality low-lying and low-density tourist resort that complements the sensitive surrounding landscape,” the case officer’s report read.
While the contiguous road network is being improved to cater for the increasing traffic demand, the eastern Triq il-Manikata is proposed to be widened and the junction between Triq San Pawl il-Baħar and Triq Għajn Tuffieħa upgraded,” the case officer’s report read.”
“The widening of Triq il-Manikata will take place by taking up land from the existing Hal Ferh Complex. A surface car park is being proposed at the north of the existing Hal Ferh Complex which is currently part of an existing unfinished camp site leased to and managed by the Scouts Association.”
The case officer had recommended that the project be approved.
As regards to trees on site, the case officer’s report read that an exhaustive survey of existing trees, shrubs and other vegetation on site is required with the intention to retain as many of the existing native trees and vegetation as is reasonably possible. Existing trees which need to be removed from their existing siting shall be transplanted or replaced in kind in another location within the site. “Alien/ invasive species existing on site should be replaced with appropriate indigenous species.”
The architect explained that over 500 trees will be added to the site, while around 230 will be transplanted.
Mellieha vice-mayor John Buttigieg during the meeting said the council agrees with the project but are concerned about traffic management. He asked whether anything changed since 2014, to which the case officer said no. Asked about the widening of the road, the applicant’s architect confirmed the land for this widening will be taken from the project.