PA funds restoration of Centru Santu Rokku in Valletta

The Ċentru Santu Rokku, in Valletta, boasts great historical significance and offers an important safe space to socialize for the city’s young people. Now, the building’s full restoration is nearing completion, thanks to the Planning Authority fully funding the project through its Development Planning Fund


Ċentru Santu Rokku is a Church property (St Paul Shipwreck Collegiate Parish) located at 196, St Ursula Street, Valletta. Apart from holding and serving the social needs of the Valletta community, the property also holds great historical worth.

In the 18th century, it was owned by one of the foundations of the ‘Soladita dei Preti’, ‘Naves’. In the 1950s the property had passed to the Order of the Knights of St John, from where they operated the service of a Blood Bank while also serving as their headquarters.

Once the Blood Bank was moved to another location, the Order also transferred its headquarters to a new venue in the proximity of Our Lady of the Victories church. In the 1990s, the parish initiated its pastoral work from this premises to serve the community of the area and its surroundings.

The property is currently being used as a youth centre, known as Teen Klabb. Teen Klabb was launched by Tabgħa Foundation. Its main aim has been that of creating a safe social space and providing academic help to teens in Valletta and the surrounding region. Here volunteers assist youth with their homework and schoolwork, while empowering them with social and life skills.

Additional activities for the teens are also held, like movie evenings, outings, crafts, cooking and live-ins. The volunteers also try and impart useful life skills and spiritual values.

At Teen Klabb, teens are given the opportunity to interact with other teens, while being monitored by helpers such as teachers, counsellors, and social youth workers. The main objective is to give the youth of the area a sense of empowerment and provide preventive care.

Keeping tradition alive

The property, which possibly belonged at first to a wealthy family, was built according to the traditional style of the time, having a large open courtyard. A generously proportioned staircase in the yard leads to the upper levels, including the sala nobile, whilst a stone spiral staircase connects the back rooms on all floors and was most likely intended for use by the servants of the household.

It contains various alterations carried out in more recent times, including the division of the property into a number of tenements and the replacement of a wrought-iron balcony with that of timber.

The façade holds certain simple architectural elements, namely the mouldings around the doors and windows, the wrought iron railing of the open balcony and the balcony corbels. One also finds a bust and a coat of arms mounted on top of the main entrance.

The book and the sword depicted on the coat of arms are the common attributes of Saint Paul. A wordy inscription below the bust reads ‘FUNDATIO NIS. NAVES. 1749.’

The project

Intense restoration works, due to the bad condition of the property’s façade have been concluded. Internally, renovation works have been carried out on the courtyard, masonry staircase, cellar, Sala Nobile and the cleaning of the walls and ceilings.

The project, which is in its final phase, consists of the installation of mechanical and electrical services, installation of bathrooms and the laying of tiles and gypsum.

At roof level, more restoration works are being carried out and a small extension together with the installation of a lift structure. A number of steel bridges are also being installed.

The Planning Authority and the St Paul Shipwreck Collegiate Parish had signed an agreement for the PA to fully finance, up to €347,000, the restoration of Ċentru Santu Rokku in Valletta.

Development Planning Fund Committee Chairperson, Vincent Cassar, said “this is another successful project which the Planning Authority is financing. This prestigious building previously lay in a fairly dilapidated state. Through the PA’s funding intervention we have supported a good example of thorough conservation, where not only are we renovating and safeguarding a building with many architectural features, but we are also giving the building a new lease of life as it will be providing a service to the community.”

How the Development Planning Fund helps

Since January 2017, the Planning Authority has invested in Malta’s quality of life and environmental sustainability through its Planning Development Fund.

The Fund promotes projects that embellish urban areas for the benefit of the wider residential community. With financing available to local councils, NGOs and other entities, following recent revisions, the Fund is now Malta’s most widescale injection of capital into projects that, in particular, promote urban greening and support vulnerable sectors of society.

In this respect, the Authority is promoting cross-organisational partnerships to encourage the involvement of people with the right expertise, the necessary experience and the most innovative and informed vision.

While most projects are eligible to receive 70% of funds needed to carry out the project, to encourage joint projects between local councils, NGOs or another entities, the PA has made 100% of eligible funds available to projects that are carried out in partnership.

Besides partnerships, projects that incorporate facilities for the disabled will get 80%, and Green and Blue Infrastructure (GBI) inteventions will receive 90%.

Moreover, in some cases, green open spaces, such as gardens and green roofs in urban areas, will even be granted up to 100%.

This not only includes the capital expediture, but any required studies and a five year maintenance plan.

Projects that incorporate vertical green walls overlooking public spaces, such a public garden with walls on either side, will receive a 5% bonus and if there is need of a development application it will have its fees waived.

The intention is for the community to benefit from a more pleasant aesthetic experience by having ‘living walls’ of plants dominating vertical planes, rather than a garden overlooked by bare walls.

With land becoming such a scarcity, this incentive encourages new methods of introducing greenery into Malta’s urban environment to purify the air, reduce ambient temperature and enhance the community’s well-being.

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