The premises in question are located in Triq San Gwakkin, Qormi.
Following a thorough assessment, the Planning Authority observed that the site was located within a designated Category 1 Settlement, where storage facilities are strictly prohibited. The authority held that storage facilities would have a deleterious impact on the amenity of residential areas and found that the applicant’s proposal was in breach of Structure Plan policy BEN 1 which seeks to protect the amenity of existing uses.
The applicant took his case before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the garages were built way back in the 1980s. The applicant contended that these garages were not assigned a ‘particular use’. It was further maintained that ‘the dimension of the garages is approximately 6m wide by 24m deep’ and, consequently, ‘there is no way that these garages were built in order to satisfy the car parking needs of one residential unit on top’. It was clear, according to the appellant, that the garages were destined as storage facilities.
In addition, the appellant argued that ‘the majority of the houses have their own parking spaces’, rendering ‘the garages useless since they cannot be rented out for the garaging of private cars’. To reinforce his argument, the appellant pointed out that the road fronting his premises was wide enough, providing ample space for parking.
In his conclusion, the appellant maintained that the authority should, if anything, encourage the ‘use’ of the garages as ‘otherwise, these will become empty and underutilized.’
In reply, the authority rebutted, describing the appellant’s arguments as unfounded. The case officer representing the Planning Directorate reiterated that the site lies within a Category 1 Settlement, where ‘storage and distribution facilities’ are not permitted. Citing Policy BEN 1 of the Structure Plan, it was contended that such facilities are likely to have a deleterious impact because of visual intrusion, noise, vibration, atmospheric pollution, unusually high traffic generation and unusual operating times.
But even so, it was submitted that the appellant’s premises were subject to an active enforcement notice after structural alterations were allegedly carried out without the applicant first obtaining a planning permit. The Tribunal acknowledged that Policy CG07 of the Central Malta Local Plan provides that land uses, other than those usually permitted in residential areas, may be considered favourably. However, this would be possible should there be ‘overriding reasons to locate such uses within these areas.’ Nevertheless, the Tribunal was not convinced that the appellant had a strong case to justify such departure. Against this backdrop, the appeal was rejected.