An application by the Westin Dragonara hotel to change the zoning rules applying to a car park it owns to allow it to develop entertainment establishments has been approved by the Planning Authority, opening the door for the creation of a “new destination” for the nightlife hub, as envisioned in the Paceville Masterplan.

The 8,800sqm site was once zoned for a four-storey residential development, but was re-zoned in 2021, allowing for mixed-use development, with 33 per cent earmarked for offices, 55 per cent for a hotel, 10 per cent for residences, and two per cent for food and beverage establishments.

In Thursday’s (today’s) decision, the Planning Authority has now redesignated the area allocated for office, residential and hotel development into an “entertainment priority area, therefore allowing a wider range of uses, including restaurants, bars, hostels, retail, supermarkets, dance halls, clubs and amusement arcades.

The Paceville Masterplan, which seems to be guiding planning policy despite being ostensibly shelved after mass public criticism, foresaw the development of a “new bay-side destination” termed the Dragonara Promenade or Parade in the area between Portomaso and the Westin Dragonara, making the most of the “dramatic, rocky and rugged coastline”.

The masterplan noted that the area currently “falls short of its potential”, and proposed a central, more formal plaza or open space with improved public access along the coastline, with a “light touch approach that respects the coastline and the Marine Special Area for Conservation”.

Graphics included in the document describe the car park’s potential as a “new focal point” for Paceville and a “new night time destination”.

The Westin Dragonara is owned by a consortium of local companies including Charles Polidano (ic-Caqnu), Virtu (operators of ferries between Malta, Gozo and Sicily), and PG (operators of the Pavi and Pama supermarkets and shopping malls).

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