MEPA Watch | Sunday, 01 November 2009

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Robert Musumeci’s analysis of MEPA decisions

Marsa Park Development Strategy – finally aborted

A 2006 application to construct a multi-storey commercial block with underground parking facilities at Triq It-Tigrija, Marsa was being recommended for refusal by the Directorate. The Directorate highlighted that any development in this area should follow a comprehensive approach in line with the established policies in the Marsa Park Development Strategy policy document. In other words, the Directorate was insisting that any development in this area should fit within an overall design proposal for the entire street, assuming of course that the different individual owners agree with this course of action.
Needless to say, in reality it is impossible to convince the different owners of the individual plots to demolish their respective properties and reconstruct their buildings according to a comprehensive plan. Finally, MEPA came to the obvious conclusion that this approach was impossible to achieve in real terms. As a result, the Marsa Park Development Strategy was aborted and the application to develop this plot of land was approved this week.
It remains uncontested that when the land belongs to different owners, comprehensive design developments cannot take shape. The same situation applies to Tal-Handaq area, where owners of individual plots are faced with a similar situation. One therefore hopes that MEPA decides to abort the Handaq Comprehensive Strategy in no time so that owners of the individual plots can develop their respective land.

A permit to manufacture uncooked pizzas!

A request to keep a premises (in a residential area) with the intention to manufacture traditional Gozitan food was being recommended for refusal by the Planning Directorate, since it was claimed that such operations would constitute a negative impact on the neighbouring residential amenity.
When the case was referred to the DCC for a decision earlier this week, the Board considered that the proposed use, although located in a residential area, may be permitted on a small scale. However, the DCC underlined that such activity should ensure that no cooking takes place on site, while the activity has to do without industrial refrigeration, ovens and microwaves. A closer look at the Local Plan policy regulating commercial activity in residential area, shows that Class 11 (Use Classes Order, 1994) business and light industry is allowed in residential areas, provided that the gross floor area of the premises does not exceed 50 sqm (including storage of materials and/or finished products). The same policy underlines that the activity conducted within the premises does not use heavy duty and/or noisy electrical/mechanical (including pneumatic) equipment while any equipment which requires a 3-phase electricity supply is not permitted. Moreover, the activity conducted within the premises must not entail extensive and/orprolonged use of percussion hand tools (eg. hammers, mallets etc).
The same policy indicates that the maximum number of people that can be employed is five. It is therefore very clear that the permit conditions laid by the DCC are in synch with the provisions set out in the Local Plans. The DCC were therefore correct in their decision.


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