Partit Demokratiku questions how it is that the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage, Dr. Anthony Pace, has stayed so quiet about the assault on Malta’s identity in the past years. Under his oversight, his office has allowed for the Planning Authority to approve a frightening number of applications to desecrate Malta’s heritage and identity. The general public has started to catch on to this fact. The Superintendent did not take action against the Kercem development application, which threatened the Roman Catacombs of Gozo. Questions must now be asked.
If this case were standalone, Partit Demokratiku would not be speaking out now. However, it has become abundantly clear that the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage has in some way been compromised to rubber stamp development applications. With case after case abandoned by the Superintendent, such as the vernacular houses of Zebbug, the Sliema Cloisters, Blackley’s Bakery in Pieta and countless other cases, the Partit Demokratiku voices the concerns of the general public and Civil Society.
Partit Demokratiku reminds the general public that the Superintendent has to date taken no stand against the possible development in Mosta of the archaeological site at il-Wesgha tal-Ġganti. He has merely recommended that monitoring takes place during the works themselves. The result of this application will be known by July 10th, and Partit Demokratiku considers this as a final test of the Superintendet’s reputation, particularly in light of the Roman Catacombs fiasco.
In light of the assault on Malta’s cultural heritage in the past months, and indeed years, and given the clear absence of the assumption of any responsibility by Dr. Anthony Pace, Partit Demokratiku questions his credibility as Superintendent of Cultural Heritage. The motivations behind his decisions – or lack thereof – are best put to an investigation and to public scrutiny. Similarly, Partit Demokratiku invites Civil Society to always seek common ground in protecting Malta’s heritage in the absence of properly functioning institutions.
- One of the more famous recent cases is the destruction of two vernacular houses in Zebbug, Gozo, part of the village core. NGO Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar collected 500 objections to this development, which would see the traditional home completely demolished to make way for a supermarket and hotel next to the church. The Superintendent commented “The existing properties do not have such cultural heritage value as to warrant their preservation”
- In Sliema, the Cloisters, a Grade 2 building, will be mutilated for a 30-room hotel. Just like Timothy Gambin, heritage representee on the Planning Board, the Superintendent remained silent. Similarly, in Pieta, the Blackley Bakeries case is described by FAA as “short-term financial interests taking precedence over preservation of the nation’s heritage” due to the demolition of protected buildings. Once again the Superintendent had nothing to say.
- Similarly, the recent approval of the demolition of one of Marsascala’s oldest and most iconic buildings was met with no resistance by the Superintendent Dr. Anthony Pace. Instead, justifications were offered. The local council stands abandoned by him in appealing this development.