Money given priority over heritage

The latest developments across the entire nation are alarming.  The first shock came last week after the high rise buildings to be constructed at Mrieħel and Sliema were approved by the Planning Authority.  This decision will lead to significant negative impacts on infrastructure including traffic, human health and general well being, and finally, the environment.

We are now also facing more applications throughout the Maltese Islands to demolish characteristic old townhouses.  I am referring to the latest news on developing the magnificent old townhouses in Sliema into hotels, guesthouses or apartments without retaining the original architectural beauty of the buildings concerned.

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Such developments are a threat to our cultural heritage.  As someone whose family used to live in Sliema and who regularly visited family from a young age, I’ve experienced the transformation of Sliema from an a place which was already facing a building boom to a total mess within less than two decades.  While several years ago only the seafront began to be destroyed, now also the innermost parts of Sliema are facing destruction.  Unfortunately, one could often see pristine townhouses being pulled down month after month, year after year.  This nightmare still persists today.

It seems like we still have not learn our lesson.  The heritage we already lost is not enough and we need to wipe out the few remaining characteristic buildings unique to this locality.  Instead of looking after the heritage passed on to us from previous generations, we are erasing their mark on our country – a signifying memento of their hard work in shaping the country we know today.

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ADŻ Malta Green Youth condemns any act of destroying our cultural heritage.  Considering there are only a few traditional townhouses left in Sliema we should grant such houses even more protection and not develop them into monotone buildings.  We are already regretting what we did to our landscape, so let’s hope we do not lose more townhouses because we need to understand that we can never undo our mistakes.  Now is the time to act, to preserve our heritage, locally and nationally.

Pascal Aloisio – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Publications Officer

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