A request for the “change of use from a retail shop to pastizzeria” was approved by the Environment and Planning Commission subject to applicant implementing all recommendations listed in a fire and safety ventilation report, which applicant himself had commissioned earlier during the application process. The premises are located in Zabbar Road, Fgura.

Following the permit’s approval, a number of objectors lodged an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the permit should be revoked on a number of grounds. One of the objectors immediately declared that he is the owner of ‘the shopping area adjacent to the site in question.’

The third party objectors noted that the proposed use requires ‘a chimney ventilating to outside space.’ Having an activated carbon filter was not acceptable to the objectors ‘as once this filter is clogged, the cooking smells will still affect the adjacent residences and shops.’ Moreover, it was alleged that ‘the heat generated by the cookers will affect the adjacent premises and overlying residence’ adding that the heat would be ‘detrimental to the overlying and adjacent premises, since the place cannot be adequately insulated due to its lack of height within the shop and small size of the premises’, adding that the property is deemed to constitute ‘a fire hazard.’

On a different note, the objectors warned that the proposed use envisages the generation of a ‘sizeable amount of garbage’ while customers are likely to ‘double park’, in turn causing a traffic hazard as the premises in question are situated ‘very close to a roundabout.’

In reply, the case officer representing the Authority maintained that the premises were already licensed as a retail shop. Whilst acknowledging that the applicant was not relying on a conventional ventilation system, the case officer pointed out that policies allow the possibility to ‘utilise a form of filtering which does not require external venting’ when it is not possible to install a chimney flue.

The case officer reiterated that the premises are indeed located within the Secondary Town Centre of Fgura where take-away outlets may be permitted. With regard to the traffic issues, the Authority said that the enforcement of on-street parking does not fall within its remit.

In its assessment, the Tribunal observed that the premises were to be used solely as a take-away for the sale and baking of pastizzeria items. In other words, no cooking operations were envisaged. Moreover, the permit conditions stipulated in no uncertain terms that ‘the preparation and distribution to other retail outlets was strictly prohibited.’ Even so, the Tribunal noted that the objectors failed to submit any technical evidence to contest the recommendations put forward in the fire and safety ventilation report. Against this background, the Tribunal held against the objectors.