The tearing down of a 19th century villa in St Julian’s has given rise to a huge controversy, especially between the Chamber of Architects and the Planning Authority in statements which they have issued against one other.
Villa St Ignatius was built in the 19th century and for some time served as the Jesuits’ College. Over the last few days, the top floor was demolished after the owners had applied for this to be done, since it was a dangerous structure.
The Chamber said that the demolition of the top floor breached building as we all as health and safety regulations. While recognizing that the PA had issued the permit because of a Court decision, it said that the Authority should declare that any permit issued by it to be null and void, because according to the Chamber, the works were not carried out according to the conditions laid out in the permit. It said that because of this, the demolition had continued.
The Chamber added that it was expecting action to be taken as well as measures implemented to safeguard our historical heritage. It also said that in another case of demolition where the former Sea Malta building used to be in Marsa, it had taken the case against the PA to the Office of the Ombudsman.
The Planning Authority, while refuting the accusations by the Chamber of Architects, asked it to substantiate these allegations which it described as false and half truths. The Authority said that the works at Villa St Ignatius were ordered by the Court and that it was clear that the works should be carried out according to the Court’s decision. Regarding the building which used to belong to Sea Malta, it said that it was in a dangerous state because the foundations were giving way. The PA said that the Chamber would be more credible if it started taking action against its own members, the architects who are responsible for such works.
Meanwhile, Din l-Art Ħelwa as well as the Church’s Environment Commission appealed to the authorities to take action to preserve our architectural heritage. Din l-Art Ħelwa urged the PA to stop the works and issue an enforcement order. It also asked for this villa to be scheduled.