Construction works in Birżebbuġa threaten the stability of a rock-cut chamber of historical interest, heritage NGOs Din l-Art Ħelwa and the Archaeological Society Malta warned yesterday.
They described the works in the area known as Tal-Papa as abusive and illicit.
The NGOs said that last July, the Planning Authority had issued a permit for the partial excavation of rock directly above the chamber for the construction of a five-storey apartment block, on condition the works would be monitored by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.
Despite this, the works have been taking place “unabated without constant monitoring being carried out,” the NGOs said.
“The contractor (also developer) not only ignored the permit conditions but proceeded to cut and excavate the rock above the chamber beyond the boundary of the site subject to the planning permit.”
They said the developer had cut the rock above the chamber entrance and destroyed part of the contextual setting of the historical site.
The rock cutting also destroyed graffiti believed to date back to World War II, they added.
According to the development brief for the site, at least 20 per cent of it is to be retained as public open space around the features of historical interest.
“The Planning Authority unashamedly disregarded these policies and proceeded to approve the monstrous development that if realised will engulf the rock-cut chamber and destroy this historical landscape,” the NGOs said.
As per The Sunday Times of Malta, 15 May 2022