The property under examination was situated in Triq Mesquita.
The proposal was initially recommended for dismissal by the Planning Directorate on the pretext that catering outlets were not permitted in this particular area of Mdina.
The Directorate pointed out that the proposed use ran counter to the provisions of policy NWMD 2 of the North West Local Plan as well as SPED Urban Objective 3 which aims to protect and enhance the character and amenity of urban areas.
In addition, the Directorate held that the premises were not fully accessible to persons with mobility disability. It was further highlighted that the proposed designs fell short of sanitary standards and regulations.
Nevertheless, the Directorate’s recommendation was subsequently overturned by the Planning Commission after it held that the site was located in an area which the Local Plan designated for ‘Consolidation of Business Activity’.
Furthermore, the Commission observed the fact that the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage had not objected to the proposal.
It was also noted that the consumer area was less than 75sqm. This meant that applicant was exempted from providing an ‘access for all’ environment.
Following the issue of permit, an appeal was filed by an objector to the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal. In his appeal, the objector insisted that the permit should be revoked due to the fact that the proposal was incompatible with policy requirements.
In his arguments, the plaintiff objector maintained that in order for the proposal to qualify in terms of policy NWMD 2, an access had to be provided from either Triq Villegaignon, Triq San Pawl, Triq Inguanez, or Triq I-Imhazen.
In actual fact, the premises in question could only be accessed through Triq Mesquita.
Moreover, plaintiff contended that the development would give rise to unwarranted traffic congestion in an otherwise residential area.
On this basis, plaintiff reasoned out that “the proposal was incompatible with an otherwise quaint residential area, thus running counter to Local Plan objectives which aim to preserve and enhance the residential amenity and setting of our important urban heritage.”
In its assessment, the Tribunal took note of the Commission’s observations in deciding to overrule the Directorate’s recommendations, where it held that the site was located in an area designated for Consolidation of Business Activity in accordance with Map 61 of the North West Local Plan.”
The Tribunal, however, assessed Map 61 and found that the site under examination was located outside the boundaries where further business activity could formally take place.
The Tribunal noted that, even more so, the area was not committed with any commercial activity. Against this background, the Tribunal upheld the plaintiff’s appeal and moved on to revoke the permit.