A planning application contemplating the enlargement of a timber canopy situated next to a kiosk was initially turned down by the Planning Commission. The submitted drawings showed an ‘extension’ made of timber and retractable glass curtains. The kiosk in question is located on the Sliema promenade in Tower Road.

In its decision, the Commission held inter alia that the proposed interventions ‘would lead to an over-development of the site’. According to the Commission, the proposal was not ‘in the interests of the amenity of the area as a whole’. To sustain its position, the Commission made specific reference to SPED Thematic Objective 6.1 and Urban Objectives 3.5 and 4.2. The Commission was also of the opinion that, were it to be approved, the proposal ‘would adversely impinge on the setting and appearance of the existing open space and on the visual amenity of the surrounding area’. In conclusion, the Commission highlighted that the drawings failed to satisfy the standard ‘access for all’ requirements. 

In reaction, the applicant lodged an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the canopy ‘had no impact whatsoever on air pollution’. If anything, the noise pollution would be controlled once the tables and chairs were to be enclosed. Referring to the opposite side of the road, the applicant further maintained that the interventions would not jeopardise ‘the character and amenity’ of the residential area.

Concluding, the applicant said that his proposal was not in conflict with policy NHRL 01 of the North Harbour Local Plan (this policy states that “planning permission will not be granted for development resulting in the loss of urban public open spaces”) since the timber extension occupied less than 10% of an open area, in any which case, was located within the curtilage of his premises. As a final point, the Tribunal was reminded that the designs incorporated a ramp which would eventually provide unhindered access to the covered terrace. 

For its part, the Authority reiterated that the applicant’s proposal went against the interest of the amenity of the area. Once again, the case officer insisted that the extension amounted to ‘over-development and intensification of the use in a public area’.

The Tribunal was reminded that the proposal went against current planning policies given that kiosks should not, in principle, ‘block sea views for stretches of over five metres or block views from interesting spaces within the adjoining urban areas’. In this case, it was alleged that the existing kiosk had already a frontage length of eight metres, which was being extended to 11.2 metres (thus, well over five metres).

In its assessment, the Tribunal nonetheless observed that the Authority had already issued a permit for a canopy on this site following a 2010 application. More so, the Tribunal concluded that the proposed extension was minimal and the Authority was consequently ordered to issue the relative planning permit.