by Petra Caruana Dingli

A new planning policy, which will allow hotels to build as many floors as they like, is currently being drawn up by the hoteliers themselves. This is blatantly wrong.

Consult hotel owners and other industry stakeholders extensively by all means, but nobody should take decisions on planning matters of any kind in which they may have a vested interest. This should be taken for granted.

Some tourism developments are sensitive to the visual impact that they have on their surroundings, but others are not.

Compare the visual impact of the Danish Village in Mellieha to its immediate neighbour the Seabank hotel. One is low and landscaped, and hardly visible from the beach or the surrounding hillsides. The other is built directly on the road and is several stories high.

Will this new ‘no limits’ policy for hotels also apply to bays like Ghadira, Marsaxlokk, Xlendi or Mgarr in Gozo as “tourism areas”?

The idea is that height limits will be removed and decisions will be taken on “design based development criteria”. It is however not clear who will be entrusted with taking these design-based decisions. This is not a minor point – it is a minefield.