It's time! Local org calls for "abandoned and abused" Qbajjar Battery to be protected
It's listed as a Grade I building.
A local organisation is demanding a decision be taken immediately to preserve Qbajjar's quickly-deteriorating Battery, referring to the historical building as "abandoned and abused."
In a recent press statement, Din L-Art Helwa revealed they had expressed their interest and commitment in "restoring and looking after the Battery, as it does with other heritage properties, way back in 2007." However, no decision has been taken since then.
Its commercial lease, expired in 2003, yet the post makes mention of various legal difficulties and administrative glitches that prevented the government from taking it back, resulting in: "...the stalemate situation today which has allowed this iconic Knights’ period building to crumble to pieces. Din l-Art Helwa remains willing to take on the challenge of bringing this Battery to life, as it has done with other historic sites, when it is liberated from the clutches of those who only see it as a commercial opportunity," the organisation said.
The post continues to divulge details about protection issues: "... in Malta, commercial leases can be given for up to 50 years and over; whilst a guardianship agreement of a heritage site with an NGO such as Din l-Art Helwa, generally has a life of 10 years, during which the NGO is obliged to keep the site in pristine condition, with annual reporting to the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage. "
"The agreement also carries the obligation of keeping the property in its original condition if it is to be renewed at the end of the term. It is arguable why historic properties like the one at Qbajjar are only perceived to have a future if they are let out for commercial use. At the very least, however, says the heritage NGO, the conditions for commercial concessions on heritage sites ought to be more stringent and in line with those obligatory to NGOs and asks the authorities to review them with urgency."
The issues surrounding the Battery at Qbajjar once again came to light after the NGO published an article about it in its publication Vigilo. The Grade I site has often been used for parties by local youths, the article reports.
Din L-Art Helwa warns it is not the only building to suffer such a fate: "There are  a number of other similar properties which are abandoned, ranging from entrenchments to batteries to other historic assets. Din l-Art Helwa has been at the forefront in the battle to recover these sites for the last 55 years. The authorities have to do their bit, however, to save heritage in the interest of the general public."
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