With a new set of guidelines, the Planning Authority is committing itself to be more sensitive to the context and environment that are part of scheduled buildings and monuments.

Following the clearer guidelines on how to identify, interpret and treat the settings and contexts of scheduled buildings, the PA has revisited its approach on the matter, with greater vigilance being given when assessing and determining proposed development applications that fall in close proximity to a scheduled building or monument.



Speaking about the matter, Martin Saliba, the PA’s Executive Council chairman, explains that, “Each scheduled building is located within a spatial context with which it relates to in different aspects. The setting is, therefore, an essential part of the building and how it is experienced.

“For this reason, the spatial context deserves specific attention. These procedural guidelines better spell out how we intend not to compromise our built cultural heritage.”  




These guidelines seek to consolidate the spirit behind Thematic Objective 8 of the SPED, which advocates for the safeguarding of the contexts and settings of sites that carry heritage value. 

When assessing a development application that is in close proximity to a scheduled building or monument, the Planning Directorate must identify the proximity of the setting of the scheduled property, make a detailed assessment of the impacts of the proposed development on the protected building, and identify the mitigation measures. This must be done at screening stage or following the validation of the application. 

This assessment process must also be supported by recommendations made by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH).  

Once the extent of the context is established on the recommendations of the SCH, the applicant is required to provide the Planning Directorate with a complete photographic inventory and ‘character appraisal’ of the context. 

To further assess the visual implications and potential impacts on the scheduled building, photomontages from strategic viewpoints will be required. The SCH also has the right to request any other information it deems necessary. 

Moreover, the Authority is going to make it a requisite that all proposed development applied for through the Summary Process and which may have an adverse impact on the integrity and character of the setting of a scheduled building (within a 50m radius from its boundary), will need to be processed as a full development application. In this way, proposed works at such sensitive sites are effectively scrutinised.

Protecting Villa Frere
The unique historical 18th century property of Villa Frere and most of its reputable landscaped garden area have been given the highest level of protection as a Grade 1 Building by the Planning Authority in consultation with the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage. The heritage richness of this property is not only tied to the architecture of the villa and its terraced gardens, but also to the social and cultural experience that this property had been exposed to.


Villa Frere. Photo: Brendan ButtigiegVilla Frere. Photo: Brendan Buttigieg


“We are very satisfied that the Planning Authority has upgraded the protection of Villa Frere to a Grade 1 monument status,” says Perit Edward Said, Founder of heritage NGO Friends of Villa Frere. “It reassures us that the sterling work and dedication many volunteers have put into carefully conserving the existing fabric of the property and making it accessible to the public over the last seven years have not been time-wasted.”

It is documented that Sir John, the first owner of the villa, was a good friend of Mikiel Anton Vassalli, considered to be one of the fathers of the Maltese language. He, together with other distinguished guests, was a regular visitor to these gardens. 


Article Source: Times of Malta