A development application contemplating warehouse construction close to the airport was rejected by the Planning Commission. Applicant’s site measured circa 3000sq.m. To justify its decision, the Commission held as follows:
1 The proposed development ran counter to Thematic Objective 1.10 and to Rural Objective 4 of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development in terms of land-use in that the proposal is not considered legitimate or necessary within the rural area;
2 The proposed development would compromise the Planning Authority’s ability to re-examine the future planning of this site as outlined in Thematic Objective 12.5 of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development;
3 The proposal would generate a considerable volume of vehicular movements which would have a significant and unacceptable impact on the road network, thus reducing road safety in the area;
4 The proposal failed to meet the minimum required distance from corners/bends for any new vehicular access. In this context, the proposed development ran counter to policies 4.1 and 4.7 of the Policy and Design Guidance 2007;
5 The proposal ran counter to Thematic Objective 10.6 of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development in that it failed to provide the required car parking spaces, thus giving rise to unacceptable additional on-street car parking which would not be in the interests of the amenity of the area;
6 The proposal was not in line with the Thematic Objective 1 of the Strategic Plan for Environment & Development for limiting the land take up for uses which are not necessary or legitimate in rural areas.
7 The proposed development ran counter to the provisions of policy 4.14 of the Policy and Design Guidance 2007 which specifies that ramps used by more than five vehicles should have a waiting area not steeper than 1: 10.
In reaction, applicant lodged an appeal with the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that permission should have been granted. In his appeal submissions, applicant (now, appellant) argued that the Commission had contradicted itself in saying that that the proposed use was not considered as ‘legitimate or necessary within the rural area’ while holding that the site in question was of ‘strategic importance’. Appellant pointed out that Thematic Objective 2.5 of the SPED aims to support initiatives for the growth of aviation related activities and the logistics sector close to the Airport. Appellant went on to state that the proposal contemplated ‘the erection of warehouses and not industrial uses’ as wrongly purported by the Planning Directorate. According to appellant, the area was committed by ‘an extensive list of industrial activities’ including concrete batching plants, warehouses, storage facilities, offices and a boat storage yard.
With regard to traffic concerns, appellant maintained that the streets surrounding the site were ‘adequately wide where car spaces could be easily accommodated as it is the norm in cities, towns and villages and industrial estates to provide car parking’.
In its assessment, the Tribunal considered that the site consisted of an old quarry measuring an area of 2800sq.m. Furthermore, the Tribunal confirmed that the site was surrounded by a multitude of legal commitments. In addition, it was highlighted that, indeed, Thematic Objective 12 promotes ‘the continuing efficient operation of the Harbours and Airport whilst minimising adverse environmental impacts by safeguarding land around the Airport for the growth of aviation related activities and the logistics sector’. For this reason, the Tribunal ruled in appellant’s favour on condition that no structures are built at groundfloor level.