A planning application entitled “Extension of existing pavement and placing of tables and chairs” fronting a catering establishment in Triq ix-Xatt, Sliema was initially turned down by the Environment and Planning Commission after it held that  the proposal involved the extension of a pavement which will remove existing on-street parking spaces.

The Commission concluded that the proposal would “exacerbate potential highway danger and vehicular and pedestrian conflict, and is thus counter to Structure Plan policy TRA 4 and PA circular 3/93.” Even more so, the Commission maintained that  “the proposed area for tables and chairs is not in line with Class 14 of the Development Notification Order (LN 115 of 2007) in that the clear and unobstructed pedestrian passage is not located between the area reserved for tables and the edge of the pavement”, adding that “clearance from Transport Malta was not obtained”.

For his part, the applicant lodged an appeal before the Environment and Planning Tribunal, whereby it was argued that Transport Malta was no longer objecting to his proposal. The applicant (now the  appellant) pointed out that in the case of another application in the same street, a similar permit was approved once  a “no objection letter” was forthcoming from Transport Malta.

The authority reacted by stating that the permit which the appellant made express reference to in his appeal submissions, was not approved. But even so, the case officer representing the authority underlined that in the appellant’s case, “the negative comments by Transport Malta were not the sole purpose for having the development refused”. The case officer reiterated that the “proposed extension to the pavement would result in the relocation of the existing parking bays, resulting in the removal of two parking spaces” in an area which already features “a significant shortfall in car parking provision”.

In its assessment, the tribunal observed that Transport Malta had indeed consented to the proposal on the express condition that a 1.5 metre stretch for the footpath alignment is kept unobstructed for pedestrian use.

Furthermore, the tribunal stated that the site in question falls within a zone which is formally designated for “mixed use”. By way of conclusion, the tribunal added that the scale of the proposal  is relatively small and held that the permit should be approved on condition that no permanent structures are placed on site.

A condition stating that “the permit hereby being granted shall in no way compromise any proposed upgrading of the Gzira/Sliema Strand and in such an eventuality, the applicant is to conform with the requirements of such upgrading and have no right to any compensation” was also to be included in the permit.