MEPA Watch | Sunday, 03 January 2010

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Robert Musumeci’s analysis of MEPA decisions

No to a take-away, yes to a restaurant!
A planning application to change the use of an operating retail shop, situated in Mdina Road (Attard), to a restaurant was being recommended to be refused by the Authority’s Directorate.
The Directorate highlighted that according to the Central Malta Local Plan, Mdina Road is designated as a residential area, where class 6 use is prohibited. Class 6 uses are defined in Legal Notice 53 of 1994 (Development Planning Act), and include either of the following uses: sale of food and drink for consumption, either on or off the premises, gelaterias, bars and restaurants.
Case officers who are entrusted with preparing recommendations assume that any class 6 use is prohibited in a residential area, and make no distinction between the various class 6 uses. When the application was referred to the DCC, the board noted that although the Local Plan refers to Mdina Road as a residential area, there were similar legal commitments in close proximity to the site location under review. Against this background, the Board considered that it was willing to issue the permit, as long as the use remains for a restaurant and food is consumed within the premises.
Rightly so, the DCC reasoned out that although a take-away outlet would generate high volumes of traffic, there is no dispute that a restaurant would generate less traffic congestion than. The DCC Board referred the application to MEPA’s able legal counsel, who indicated that it was legally possible to issue the permit on condition that the approved use would be specifically limited to a restaurant (and take-away operations are precluded, even though considered to be class 6 use).
In other words, the permit was issued as long as food is consumed within the premises and not consumed elsewhere. This decision continues to prove that applications for class 6 uses should be decided on the specific merits governing the application. There is no doubt that take-away outlets tend to generate considerable nuisance and high traffic volumes – on the other hand, restaurants and bars are less prone to generate traffic congestions. It is evident that our decision-making bodies are finally making a clear distinction between the various uses which are permitted under the class 6 use order framework as defined in Legal Notice 53 of 1994 (Development Planning Act).


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