The premises were located in Zachary Street in Valletta.
Although applicant made it very clear that no on-site cooking would take place, the Commission refused permission on the basis that the premises were located in a residential area.
To substantiate its decision, the Commission held that the proposal was in breach of policy GV 22 of the Grand Harbour Local Plan which specifies that ‘take-aways and other similar types of use will only be considered if they are located in sites which will not cause annoyance to neighbouring residents.’
In its decision, the Commission also observed that the proposal was in conflict with SPED Urban Objective 3 which ‘aims to protect and enhance the character and amenity of urban areas.’
In reaction, applicant decided to appeal the decision before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal. In his arguments, applicant (now, appellant) underlined that his proposal envisaged ‘a small snack bar’ and not a ‘take away’, so much so that a seating area was to be provided inside the bar precincts.
In addition, applicant emphasised that no cooking on site was to take place, insisting that the proposal sought to enhance an otherwise disused garage in the ‘heart of Valletta’.
While insisting that the floorspace was limited to 10sq.m, applicant reminded the Tribunal that the Authority had issued a number of permits which were similar to his.
In reply, the Authority stood by its decision to refuse permission. The case officer underlined that the proposed change of use was in breach of Local Plan policy GV22 of the Grand Harbour Local Plan, since the said policy was ‘against the permitting of all Class 4 Uses that are likely to cause annoyance to neighbouring residents.’
The officer warned that applicant’s premises were located in ‘a predominantly quiet residential area in Valletta’.
Even though it was undisputed that the premises would occupy a floorspace of 10sq.m, the use involved ‘the preparation and sale of hot or cold food or water for consumption on the premises’, which use was strictly prohibited in the area.
In its assessment, the Tribunal took note of the site location as well as the immediate environs.
The Tribunal went on to observe that there were no other commercial outlets in the vicinity.
Notwithstanding the fact that the premises occupied a small footprint, the Tribunal was still concerned that a bar would generate unacceptable sound levels and a high volume of traffic.
For this reason, the Tribunal agreed with the Authority in that this part of Zachary Street should remain free from any new commercial activity.