Heritage Malta has expressed serious concern about plans to turn the dilapidated restaurant of Hajar Qim into a contemporary structure with extensive glazing, although photomontages show that the site remains virtually invisible from the megalithic temples of Mnajdra and Hajar Qim.
But the new application envisages a massive dining area of 450sq.m, a roof terrace of 104sq.m and an open area of 700sq.m with benches for an outdoor dining area.
Heritage Malta, which manages the UNESCO world heritage site, said that the extensive outdoor dining areas and the rooftop restaurant will require significant lighting, which will affect both the Natura site The next 2000, as well as one of the few remaining areas in the Maltese islands where the night. sky can be observed. Heritage Malta also fears “significant noise pollution” on the surrounding Natura 2000 site.
She also warned that a restaurant on the roof could lead to the installation of tent structures to result in another permanent structure, and therefore an increase in height.
Another major concern is the traffic impact, as the restaurant will require 35 parking spaces for customers and employees, none of which are provided on site. Heritage Malta has made it clear that the private restaurant will not be allowed to use the parking area of the archaeological park, which is already “fully used for many hours of the day.”
Heritage Malta said that the additional traffic from the restaurant, as well as the noise and light pollution, and the mass of the proposed building, will have a negative impact both on the Natura 2000 site and on the views from Hajar Qim.
The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage has also expressed concern about the roof terrace as a dining area, saying that any installation of shade will have a negative impact on the temples, while the external light will have an impact on the setting of the temples in the dark hours. The SCH wants a lighting plan to ensure that “no light pollution” is created in the heritage park.
While the applicant’s photomontages suggest that the new development will be practically invisible from both Hajar Qim and Mnajdra, the SCH wants photos from other vantage points to better evaluate its visual impact.
The applicant for the restaurant is Maria Theresa Mallia, whose family had won an eviction from the court of the former restaurant operators in 2019, ending a 14-year legal saga after the tenants opened r -a restaurant without the consent of the owners.