The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) is ‘surprised’ by the statements and comments posted online by a number of professionals all based on incorrect statements about the Manikata Church. The latest pertains to a statement and comments indicating that the parvis area surrounding the St Joseph parish church in Manikata may not be included in the approved scheduling last Thursday and so will not be protected by the Authority.
MEPA can confirm that it was never contemplated nor were there ever any discussions proposing that the parvis area gets left out of the scheduling. For the Authority the parvis area around the Parish Church is an integral part of the building which merited the protection. The Authority said that it expects that certain persons who have all the facility they require to check out their facts with the Authority should do so, prior to issuing statements or posting their comments online.
The Authority, through last Thursday’s approved scheduling has safeguarded the Manikata Church and has ensured that any future interventions that may be carried out on this site will fully respect the rich and unique architectural value of this building. The Authority dismisses the statement made that the scheduling of the Manikata Church came too late to ensure that it will be protected. Scheduling prevails over any permit irrespective of when a permit has been issued on site. The Authority confirms that the permit which was issued last month will now have to be re-evaluated in the light of the scheduling. Following this assessment, the Authority will take a decision on the way forward.
The Authority also highlights the fact that when the Environment and Planning Commission, last month, granted planning permission for extension works to be carried out under the parvis of the already existing storage facilities, they granted this after they had deferred the case. In the first hearing of this planning application, the EPC had directed the architect to carry out a number of significant amendments from the original proposal. The approved interventions were restricted to within the existing footprint and beneath the parvis. The original design and appearance of the Parish church and the parvis had to be safeguarded.
Over the past weeks the Authority scheduled over 50 other Parish churches. MEPA designated as Grade 1, those which were built prior to the1900s while assigning Grade 2 status to those Parish churches which were built in the 20th Century up until 1960, with a few exemptions such as the Manikata Parish Church which was scheduled as a Grade 1 20th Century modern architecture.
During the past four years MEPA has been carrying out research and consultations for the scheduling of Parish Churches in Malta and Gozo.