The Westin parking lot is now rezoned in the Paceville Entertainment Center

The planning authority has approved an application by the Westin Dragonara hotel to change zoning rules in Paceville and extend the ‘entertainment priority zone’ to its parking area behind the 18th century perimeter wall on Triq id-Dragonara facing the coast.

According to the file manager who recommended approval, this rezoning is necessary “to achieve a quality project in terms of architecture and urban planning”.

A substantial part of the 8,800m² site had been zoned for a four-storey residential development in the 2006 local plan. Subsequently, in 2021, the PA rezoned the Westin parking lot for a mixed-use development: 33 % for offices, 55% for a hotel and 10% for residential use, and only 2% for catering establishments.

But now the PA has renamed the area allocated for office, residential and hotel development to an “entertainment priority zone” – that is, extending the Paceville entertainment center into the residential area along it. part of Triq Dragonara, Triq il-Wilga and Triq il -Knisja.

A number of gated townhouses are located directly opposite the proposed development while a number of residential blocks are located opposite the historic gate.

Such a designation would allow for a wider range of permitted uses: homes, restaurants, bars, hostels, retail businesses, supermarkets, dance halls, clubs and amusement arcades.

According to the case officer, the rezoning is in line with the designation of Paceville as a whole as a Business Hub in the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development (SPED).

Furthermore, the establishment of new commercial activities on the site of the car park is justified because the site “is physically separated by roads from the residential areas located to the south and west of the existing car park.

Area residents had opposed the previous application to allow mixed-use development and had insisted that any development on the site of the parking lot not rise above the level of the historic wall built by the Knights of St. Master Pinto, surrounding the parking lot.

Previous demands have also been met with resistance from residents who feared the encroachment of commercial activities on their doorsteps.

But no objections were presented to the last request, except by Din l-Art Ħelwa who complained about “insufficient information” provided in the request.

The rezoning exercise also does not mention the type of project planned in the area in the future.

An application for a 10-story development was submitted by the Westin Hotel in 2018 before zoning applications were approved and is still in preliminary review.

The site currently used as a car park was previously occupied by former protected stables that stood lower than the historic wall, which were illegally demolished in the early 1990s.

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