The Planning Authority had turned down a planning application for the placing of tables and chairs on a demountable timber platform in front of a licensed catering establishment in Gzira. The Authority held that the proposal was in breach of policy P8 of the Policy, Guidance and Standards for Outdoor Catering Areas on Public Open Spaces 2016, which specifically states that a pedestrian footpath having a minimum width of 1.5 metres should be provided next to outdoor catering areas.
Moreover, the Authority was concerned about the fact that the timber platform would occupy a public parking space.
In reaction, the applicant appealed the decision before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal. In his submissions, the applicant (now, appellant) argued that a 1.5 metre passageway was to be provided in adherence with policy requirements. Whilst acknowledging that his premises were located in a residential area, appellant reminded the Tribunal that no ‘unacceptable cumulative adverse impacts on the locality’ were envisaged.
In addition, reference was made to a number of nearby catering locations that had been granted a permit for tables and chairs. Moreover, it was pointed out that both Transport Malta and the Malta Tourism Authority did not object to the proposal.
As to the ‘lost parking space’ applicant rebutted by stating that ‘the amount of timed parking which gives precedence to the residents is ample in the area and thus should be taken into consideration.’
In reply, the case officer representing the Planning Authority noted that the designs were in such manner that the passageway would encroach onto the carriageway. Apart from exacerbating traffic congestion, the development would also ‘interfere with the safety and primary function of the adjacent footpath or nearby street’.
In its assessment, the Tribunal was satisfied that the width of the passageway was adequate. However, with regard to the loss of parking space, the Tribunal, underlined the fact that although permitting, Authorities could consider requests for extending the outdoor catering area ‘over parking spaces’, but each case was to be assessed on its own merits.
After having regard to the prevailing traffic patterns in the area, the Tribunal objected to having the number of public parking spaces reduced.
For this reason, the Authority’s decision to retain an existing parking space was confirmed.