PR 03/18 | Our Legacy – Wirtna

We spend most of our lives within the built environment, be it at home, at a place of work, or whilst participating in education, business or relaxation. The state of the built environment has a major impact on the quality of life of all the citizens of these islands.

Rapid changes are taking place, dramatically and irreversibly transforming the distinctive architectural character, streetscape, and skyline of our towns and villages, which have evolved harmoniously over several generations, and which are now being severely compromised and even at risk of being lost. We are now witnessing indiscriminate demolition of built and other cultural assets, and a general impoverishment of the quality of our urban areas.

We must stand up to this onslaught. Today, a group of 22 entities have come together to sign a declaration calling for the preservation of our built heritage.

We chose today as it is the International Day for Monuments and Sites, and the theme for this year is “Heritage for Generations.” The Declaration we are signing is titled: Our Legacy – Wirtna. Our fundamental message is that how we treat our heritage is the legacy we leave for future generations.

We invite other entities who wish to subscribe to this Declaration to get in touch with any of the signatories for further information on how to join this endeavour.


We, the undersigned, representing entities active in the field of cultural heritage in Malta and Gozo,

Refer to the Declaration of Principles of the Constitution of Malta, and in particular to Article 9 which stipulates that “the State shall safeguard the landscape and the historical and artistic patrimony of the Nation”;

Conscious of the fact that we all spend most of our lives within the built environment, be it at home, at a place of work, or whilst participating in education, business or relaxation, and that the state of the built environment has a major impact on the quality of life of all citizens of these islands;

Concerned about the rapid changes that are taking place, dramatically and irreversibly transforming the distinctive architectural character, streetscape and skyline of our towns and villages, which have evolved harmoniously over several generations, and which are now being severely compromised and even at risk of being lost;

Alarmed by the unprecedented construction pressures that have recently intensified, even within our Urban Conservation Areas, to the extent that we are now witnessing indiscriminate demolition of built and other cultural assets in these areas, and a general impoverishment of the quality of our urban areas;

Concerned about the fact that planning systems have often favoured speculation, rather than the more fundamental needs of society, and concerned about the ever-increasing incidence of permits granted for demolition of heritage buildings, without any regard given to their architectural significance, nor to the cultural and social considerations that are important to the community;

Convinced that our heritage buildings, and the wider cultural landscape, are irreplaceable assets that also have a real economic value that can contribute to the creation of wealth when positioned within a planning framework that aims for sustainable development;

Aware of the importance of archaeological remains that represent a unique and invaluable part of Malta’s cultural heritage, and of their significance within a broad Mediterranean context;

Aspiring to promote a built environment which constitutes a healthy synergy and balance between the existing built fabric and new urban developments of high quality, as opposed to short-sighted speculation;



Therefore, calling upon Government to shoulder its responsibilities for the upholding of the Constitution, we propose and demand:

  • That a single integrated Public Inventory of Cultural Assets that are scheduled or identified for scheduling, or worthy of scheduling, be urgently compiled, and maintained, under the Cultural Heritage Act, and not under the Development Planning Act, and that such inventory be binding on planning decisions;
  • That conservation experts and heritage NGOs are invited to be actively and genuinely involved in policy making in the legislative processes relating to development planning;
  • That the protection status of Urban Conservation Areas, and the areas immediately surrounding Urban Conservation Areas, as well as the significance of Grade 2 scheduling, be urgently redefined, so as to give effective protection to the cultural assets therein, rather than promote “façadism” or token, and effectively meaningless, preservation of fragments, such as niches, plaques, and sculptural features;
  • That special attention be given to the protection of traditional skylines of historic towns and villages, and that permissible building heights as designated in the Local Plans do not compromise these skyline views;
  • That the current, rather ineffectual, protection of heritage assets within Urban Conservation Areas be strengthened by a blanket presumption against the demolition of buildings, or parts of buildings and gardens, as well as by a blanket presumption against the building of additional floors above the existing, unless it could incontrovertibly be demonstrated that no additional damage to the character of the Urban Conservation Area would result;
  • That the European Landscape Convention (Florence, 2000) be ratified by Malta, without further delay;
  • That the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro, 2005), be signed and ratified by Malta, without further delay;
  • That Government takes suitable measures to ensure that provision is made in the budget of developer-funded archaeological investigations to ensure a timely publication of a summary scientific record, as well as the full publication and recording of the findings, as required by the European Convention on the Protection of Archaeological Heritage (Valletta, 1992), to which Malta is a party;
  • That Government provides its agents, primarily the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, with the necessary tools and resources to safeguard our cultural heritage in an effective and lasting way, within a strong legislative framework;
  • That, in addition to schemes such as Irrestawra Darek, public funds be made available to allow investment in public infrastructure, including pavement and street quality, especially in Urban Conservation Areas, so that these are truly given life again, to the social benefit of existing residents;
  • That a public Heritage Property Fund be created, which could be used in exceptional circumstances by the State, to intervene and acquire key properties, at market value, which have strategic cultural significance, so that these properties can be restored and redeveloped in an appropriate way, before being put back on the market to recover some, if not all, of the funds expended, or otherwise to be put to communal or societal use.

Valletta, 18th April 2018

Kollha nqattgħu l-ħin tagħna fl-ambjent mibni, kemm jekk id-dar, fil-post tax-xogħol, jew waqt li qegħdin nieħdu sehem fl-edukazzjoni, fil-kummerċ, jew fir-rilassament. L-istat ta’ l-ambjent mibni għandu impatt kbir fuq il-kwalita’ tal-ħajja taċ-ċittadini ta’ dawn il-gżejjer.

Qegħdin naraw tibdil mgħaġġel, li qiegħed jitttrasforma il-karattru uniku arkitettoniku, it-toroq u l‑iskyline tal-irħula u bliet tagħna,  b’mod drammatiku u irriversibbli. Dawn illum jinsabu mhedda u f’riskju li jintilfu. Qegħdin naraw it-twaqqiegħ indiskriminat tal-wirt mibni u kulturali, u l-kwalita’ tal-ambjent urban qiegħed jiftaqar kuljum.

Hemm bżonn nieqfu għal din il-qerda. Illum, grupp ta’ 22 entita’ ingħaqdu flimkien biex jiffirmaw Stqarrija li fiha qed isejħu għall-ħarsien tal-wirt mibni tagħna.

Għazilna din il-ġurnata għaliex hu il-Jum Internazzjonali għall-Monumenti u Siti, u t-tema ta’ din is-sena hi “Il-Wirt għall-Ġenerazzjonijiet”. L-iStqarrija li ffirmajna iġġib it-titlu: Wirtna – Our Legacy. Il-messaġġ fundamentali tagħna hu li l-mod kif nittrattaw il-wirt tagħna hu l-legat li ser inħallu għall-ġenerazzjonijiet futuri.

Nistiednu lil entitajiet oħrajn li jixtiequ jingħaqdu magħna biex jagħmlu kuntatt mal-firmatarji ta’ din l-iStqarrija għal iktar informazzjoni.


Aħna, hawn taħt iffirmati, f’isem entitajiet impenjati fil-kamp tal-wirt kulturali f’Malta u Għawdex,

Nagħmlu riferenza għad-Dikjarazzjoni ta’ Prinċipji fil-Kostituzzjoni ta’ Malta, u, b’mod partikulari, għall-Artiklu 9 li jistipula li “l-Istat għandu jissalvagwardja l-paesaġġ u l-patrimonju storiku u artistiku tan-Nazzjon”;

Konxji tal-fatt li aħna lkoll nqattgħu parti kbira minn ħajjitna fl-ambjent mibni, kemm fid-dar, fuq il-post tax‑xogħol, f’postijiet ta’ tagħlim, taħrig, negozju, jew mistrieħ, u li għalhekk l-ambjent mibni għandu impatt qawwi fuq il-kwalita’ tal-ħajja taċ-ċittadini ta’ dawn il-gżejjer;

Mħassba dwar it-tibdiliet mgħaġġla li qed iseħħu, u li b’mod drammatiku u irriversibbli qegħdin ibiddlu l‑karattru arkitettoniku, id-dehra tat-toroq, u l-profil tal-bjut ta’ l-ibliet u l-irħula tagħna, li evolvew, b’mod bilanċjat, fuq medda ta’ diversi ġenerazzjonijiet, u li issa jinsabu mhedda serjament u f’riskju ċar li jintilfu ghal kollox;

Allarmati bil-pressjonijiet bla preċedent tas-settur tal-kostruzzjoni li qeghdin jiżdiedu saħansitra fiż-Żoni ta’ Konservazzjoni Urbana, u li qed iwasslu għal qerda bla ħsieb tal-wirt mibni, jew wirt kulturali ieħor, f’dawn iż-żoni, b’mod li qed ifaqqar il-kwalita’ tal-ambjent urban tagħna;

Mħassba dwar il-fatt li s-sistemi ta’ ippjanar tagħna sikwit jiffavorixxu l-ispekulazzjoni, aktar mill-bżonnijiet iżjed fundamentali tas-soċjetá, u mħassba biż-żieda ta’ permessi għat-twaqqiegħ ta’ bini storiku, mingħajr l-ebda kunsiderazzjoni għall-valur tagħhom, kemm dak arkitettoniku, kulturali jew soċjali, li huma importanti għall‑kommunita’;

Konvinti li l-bini storiku, u l-firxa aktar wiesa’ tal-wirt kulturali, huma assi li għandhom valur ekonomiku reali, u li jwasslu għat-tkattir tal-ġid, jekk inqegħduhom f’kuntest ta’ ippjanar għal żvilupp sostenibbli;

Konxji mill-importanza tal-fdalijiet arkeoloġici, li jirrappreżentaw parti unika u imprezzabbli tal-wirt kulturali Malti, u tas-sinifikat akbar tagħhom fil-kuntest wiesa’ tal-Mediterran;

Bil-ħsieb li nkattru ambjent mibni li joħloq sinerġija b’saħħitha u bilanċ bejn il-bini eżistenti u l-żvilupp urban ġdid ta’ kwalita’ għolja, u mhux żvilupp spekulattiv li ma jħarisx fit-tul;


Għaldaqstant, nitolbu li l-Gvern jerfa’ r-responsabbiltá li għandu biex iħares il-Kostituzzjoni, u qeghdin nipproponu w nesiġu:

  • Li jiġi stabbilit b’urġenza inventarju pubbliku waħdieni tal-assi kulturali ta’ Malta, li huma skedati, magħżula għall-iskedar, jew li jistħoqqilhom skedar, u li dan jinżamm taħt l-Att dwar Il-Wirt Kulturali, u mhux taħt l-Att dwar l-Ippjanar ta’ l-Iżvilupp, u li dan l-inventarju jkun jorbot fuq deċiżjonijiet ta’ l-ippjanar;
  • Li esperti w entitajiet attivi fil-kamp tal-ħarsien tal-wirt kulturali u tal-konservazzjoni jkunu ġenwinament involuti fit-tfassil ta’ politika dwar il-proċessi leġislattivi li għandhom x’jaqsmu ma’ l-ippjanar ta’ l-iżvilupp;
  • Li l-protezzjoni li joffru ż-Żoni ta’ Konservazzjoni Urbana, u l-inħawi biswit dawn iż-Żoni, kif ukoll is-sinifikat ta’ skedar fil-livell tat-Tieni Grad, jiġu riveduti minnufih biex verament joffru ħarsien effettiv ta’ l-assi kulturali li hemm fihom, minflok dak li jissejjaħ “facadism”, jiġifieri l-preservazzjoni ta’ faċċati, b’mod falz, u t-tifrik ta’ kull ma hemm warajhom, jew il-ħarsien bla sens ta’ frammenti bħal niċeċ, plakek, u lavur, f’isem il-konservazzjoni;
  • Li tingħata attenzjoni partikolari lill-ħarsien tax-xefaq bejn s-sema u l-linja tal-bjut ta’ l-ibliet u rħula storiċi; u li l-għoli ta’ l-iżvilupp permess, skond il-Pjani Lokali, ma jheddidx id-dehra mill-bogħod ta’ dan il-profil;
  • Li l-protezzjoni attwali, u pjuttost fjakka, li joffru ż-Żoni ta’ Konservazzjoni Urbana, tissaħħaħ billi jkun hemm preżunzjoni kontra t-twaqqiegħ ta’ bini, jew partijiet minnhom, jew ġonna, kif ukoll kontra bini ta’ sulari fuq dawk eżistenti, sakemm ma jiġix stabbilit, b’mod ċar, li dan mhux se jikkawża aktar ħsara lill-karattru ta’ l-istess Żona ta’ Konservazzjoni Urbana;
  • Li l-Konvenzjoni Ewropea dwar il-Paesaġġ (Firenze, 2000)[i] jiġi ratifikat minn Malta, mingħajr aktar dewmien;
  • Li l-Konvenzjoni tal-Kunsill ta’ l-Ewropa dwar il-Valur tal-Wirt Kulturali għas-Soċjetá (Faro 2005)[ii] jiġi ffirmat u ratifikat minn Malta, mingħajr aktar dewmien;
  • Li l-Gvern jieħu miżuri adegwati biex jassigura li minbarra l-iskavi arkeologiċi mħallsa mill-iżviluppaturi jkun hemm fondi biex jiġu ppubblikati r-rapporti xjentifiċi fil-qosor, kif ukoll ir-rapporti sħaħ li jiddokumentaw dak li nstab, kif mitlub mill-Konvenzjoni Ewropea dwar il-Protezzjoni tal-Wirt Arkaeoloġiku (Valletta 1992)[iii], li tagħha Malta hija firmatarja;
  • Li l-Gvern jipprovdi lill-aġenti tiegħu, partikolarment lis-Sovraintendenza tal-Wirt Kulturali, l-għodda u riżorsi meħtieġa biex iħarsu l-wirt kulturali tagħna b’mod effettiv u dewwiemi, f’qafas leġislattiv b’saħħtu;
  • Li, flimkien ma skemi bħal Irrestawra Darek, ikun hemm fondi pubbliċi biex isir investiment fl-infrastruttura pubblika, inkluż fil-bankini u l-kwalita’ tat-toroq, speċjalment fiż-Żoni ta’ Konservazzjoni Urbana, biex dawn verament jerġgħu jingħataw il-ħajja, għall-benefiċċju soċjali tar-residenti eżistenti;
  • Li jinħoloq Fond għall-Wirt Mibni, li jista’ jintuża mill-istat, f’ċirkostanzi eċċezjonali, biex jintervjeni u jakkwista, bil-prezz tas-suq, siti ewlenin, li għandhom sinifikat kulturali strateġiku, biex l-istess siti jiġu restawrati u żviluppati b’mod xieraq, qabel ma jerġgħu jitpoġġew fuq is-suq, biex jagħmlu tajjeb għal parti jekk mhux il-flus kollha minfuqa, jew jintużaw għal skopijiet soċjali jew tal-komunitá.

Valletta, 18 ta’ April 2018

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