It has happened. A controversial hotel may be built at Lake Malta in Poznań . A building permit has been issued for a structure with a form and location that were not envisioned by the creator of the sports and recreational complex on the lake. All because of the loose provisions of the development plan and the failure to update it.
About the gauges for a hotel investment on Malta (a well-known sports and recreational area around an artificial lake with a regatta course) - it became noisy two and a half years ago. The local "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported that a project for a spacious hotel for the area between the popular reservoir and the year-round ski slope on Liberty Mound (2 Wiankowa Street) had been developed. The investor, MALTA SKI, then applied for a building permit, which - after a number of perturbations - it has just managed to obtain.
Water, greenery, postmodernism
Just as two years ago the information about the intentions to build, now the news that the investment is possible has caused consternation among Poznań residents. Councilors and community activists are protesting. The voices in favor of this investment are rather isolated. After all, Malta is a coherent and consistently implemented project (designed by Klemens Mikula and his team, 1980-90), in which water and greenery play a dominant role. A thoughtful counterpoint to them are the few and successful post-modern buildings and sports facilities. Any interference with Malta's landscape setting should therefore be thoroughly considered and set in the broad context of the entire complex.
A view of the stands with the referee tower (left) and the slope on the Freedom Mound (right)
the hotel is to stand in front of the slope
photo: Jakub Glaz
Meanwhile, the design presented in 2021 by ACE ODA and Studio BOAA. is, firstly, a decent architecture, but with a completely different character and quite a large size (160 rooms), and secondly, planned in a very important place, on the foreground of the Liberty Mound with a ski slope, close to the characteristic grandstand building with a referee tower. The approximately 150-meter-long building would stand along a busy stretch of pedestrian and bicycle route around the lake. It could therefore strongly affect both the landscape and views (including the dominant Mound), and the immediate surroundings and its many users.
Hotel on Lake Malta in Poznań, designed by ACE ODA and Studio BOAA
Entrance to the building from the lakeside route
proj.: ACE ODA and Studio BOAA, visualization: AESDE
The ski slope and adjacent land have been owned by MALTA SKI since 2013 (the rest of Malta is mainly municipal land). A local zoning plan from 2002 is in effect for the land it owns (it covers the entire Maltese complex). Its purpose was, among other things, to protect Malta from chaotic or unwanted additions. However, it turned out that the document leaves investors a great deal of freedom, and its provisions are not very precise.
"Recreational services area," which is the plot belonging to MALTA SKI (symbol 19US/UT on the plan), is in fact defined by a definition that is basically a bottomless bag. The provisions of the mpzp read that these are "areas with a large share of greenery, intended for the location of facilities serving the purposes of leisure, entertainment, culture, hotel facilities, guesthouses, restaurants, wellness, sports and recreational equipment rentals."
A fragment of the master plan for Lake Malta in Poznań - in the middle, in red, the area of the Mound and the ski slope;
the hotel is to stand along the upper (northern) edge of area 19 UT/US
The realization of the hotel is therefore possible, which is why officials finally issued a building permit. Ultimately, because the road to that decision was a bit bumpy. In July 2021, the magistrate refused to issue the decision (reason: no access to a public road and no decision on environmental conditions). Last year, the investor renewed his application, but officials ordered him to remove the irregularities contained in it. MALTA SKI applied last fall for a suspension of the proceedings, then obtained a decision on a necessary road easement providing access to a public road and a decision on environmental conditions. Finally - on November 27 it got a decision favorable to it (permission to build a hotel with a rental shop and to demolish several worthless pavilions).
Hotel on Lake Malta in Poznań
design: ACE ODA and Studio BOAA, visualization: AESDE
letter more important than spirit
What do decision-makers think about it? Tuesday's "Wyborcza" quotes Piotr Sobczak, director of the City Hall's Urban Planning and Architecture Department, who is evasive in his assessment :
"Whether this investment is needed by Poznań, whether it fits in with the objectives of Lake Malta and the areas around it, was assessed at the stage of drawing up the plan, when, as a result of relevant analyses, an investment of this scale and function was allowed in this area.
As a counter to this statement, it is therefore worth recalling the words of Lukasz Mikula, a planner, councilman, chairman of the City Council's Spatial Policy Committee and grandson of the author of the Malta complex. He said in 2021 that, yes, within the slope a hotel was included in the Malta designer's concept, but it was to be discreetly, terraced into the slope, not obscure it. This, however, is not in the provisions of the plan from 21 years ago, and officials stick not to the spirit of the local law established for Malta, but to its letter.
Lake Malta, Poznań - a commemorative bench with the figure of Klemens Mikula, the author of Malta,
almost in front of the controversial hotel development
photo: Jakub Głaz
So maybe the provisions of the mpzp needed to be changed? Especially since the plans from a few decades ago differ greatly in form and the content and precision of the provisions from today's documents. However, representatives of the magistrate informed that by the time the investor applied for a building permit, it was too late from a formal point of view to start amending the plan. In the background also resounded the traditional theme of compensation from the city in the event of an unfavorable modification of the document's provisions for MALTA SKI.
time for revision
The case of the hotel in Malta should therefore be a reason to revise the provisions of the old plans, which either do not correspond to modern realities, or have become irresistible to far-reaching interpretations by clever lawyers and investors. This issue was also addressed by Tomasz Hejna, a Piatkowo neighborhood councilor and city activist, on his Facebook fanpage Gemela Pozn anska:
Once every term of the City Council, the mayor is obliged by law to assess the timeliness of local plans. The plan for Malta is one of the oldest in Poznań, and it was in the interest of the city and its residents to update it in such a way as to protect Malta from unwanted urban development. This has not been done.
Will the approach to the update change now? Probably the most here depends on the proper organization of the City Council's work, the ongoing monitoring of the situation, the widespread willingness and finding a systemic way to "comb" older plans for potentially harmful or outdated provisions.
Lake Malta, Poznań - view of the slope (and the site for the hotel) and the lake from the fenced area for the construction of an aparthotel on the north side of Malta
photo: Jakub Głaz
So far, city planners have taken it upon themselves to revise the key plan for the Old Town, which will soon replace the long-deserted document, also from 2002. Now it's time to check other places important to Poznań and protect them from potential assaults on the shape of the space. Malta should go first, especially since, as we recently reported, the provisions of the same plan made it possible to issue a building permit for apartments in the form of an aparthotel on the other side of the lake. It's high time to break this series of unfortunate investor incidents.