A development application for “minor alterations” and the change of use from a commercial outlet  to a residential garage (in Sliema) was initially turned down by the Environment and Planning Commission after it was held that “the proposed garage access does not comply with Policy 4.4 of Development Control Policy & Design Guidance 2007”.

In reaction, the applicant appealed the decision before the Environment and Planning Tribunal, insisting that  the proposed garage was to serve a dwelling. Applicant (now appellant) added that  “the closing of a shop is inevitably conducive to a reduction in vehicular traffic and on-street parking in a busy part of Sliema since obviously there will be a diminution in demand for on-street parking from the clients who previously used to frequent this shop.”

More so, the appellant produced documented evidence (a rent book) to show that in the past, the premises were used as a garage. 

In addition, the appellant underlined that there is adequate manoeuverability with respect to the proposed access. Indeed, he submitted scaled drawings containing swept paths (drawings showing the movement and path of different parts of a vehicle when that vehicle is undertaking a turning manoeuvre) having regard to the proposed door width, road width and other obstructions, clearly showing that vehicles could easily manoeuvre in and out from the garage.

The case officer nonetheless rebutted, insisting that the site is located within a  UCA Category B location.  In addition, it was reiterated that the proposed garage access does not comply with Policy 4.4 of the DC 2007 in that “the necessary clearance of 4.1 metres cannot be obtained due to the parking bay opposite the garage.”

The proposal thus failed to provide a clear swept path to exit from the garage and the required manoeuvering will therefore negatively affect traffic flows in the area.  In his concluding remarks, the MEPA officer added that the traffic levels would not be reduced (as alleged by the applicant) in the event that  the commercial outlet be converted to a dwelling as proposed.

n its assessment, the Tribunal took note of the swept paths and concluded that vehicles can easily manoeuvre in and out of the garage without the need to eliminate the opposite on-street parking, despite the clear road widths not meeting the stipulated policy requirements.  Against this background, the Tribunal ordered the MEPA to issue the permit.