The Malta Independent 23 February 2020, Sunday

Application to construct car showroom adjacent to fuel station on ODZ land to be decided Thursday

Kevin Schembri Orland Monday, 16 September 2019, 09:55 Last update: about 6 months ago

An application to develop a site adjacent to a petrol station on ODZ land and construct, among other things, a car showroom will be decided this Thursday.

The site is just adjacent to the F. Busuttil service station on Triq Tal- Barrani, Zejtun and was filed by the same applicant as the station.

The proposal, according to the case officer's report includes an underground car park consisting of one underground level to accommodate 46 vehicles (less than the 120 spaces proposed in the original application), a car showroom, a car wash and drying area and two offices.

The site is located in Triq Tal-Barrani, limits of Ghaxaq and which lies outside the limits to development. The site is vacant land, covering a floor area of 2470m². It is sandwiched between the existing fuel station and the building which houses the Lidl Supermarket. The proposal would see it developed "as part of the fuel station with regards to vehicular access. The site lies within an agricultural area, as indicated on the South Malta Local Plan."

During a Planning Commission meeting held on 10th June 2016, the members refused the proposal for a number of reasons, including that the proposed development runs counter to the provisions of the Rural Policy & Design Guidance 2014 in that the works entail the removal of soil within an Agricultural Area. "Furthermore, the proposed development is not a use essential for agriculture, therefore runs counter to South Malta Local Plan policy." It was also found to run counter to other policy.

"A request for appeal was submitted on the 25th July, 2016. The Environment and Planning Review Tribunal decided to annul the decision for refusal and sent the application back to the Authority at the point before the case officer report in order to carry out discussions with the applicant and necessary consultations and for the determination in line with the Fuel Service Stations Policy."

The case officer notes however that the proposed development "is not acceptable since there is no justification to locate the proposed uses within the rural area, whilst these are not essential for the agricultural use of the land, hence running counter to SPED objectives, Local Plan and Rural Policy and Design Guidance policies. Moreover, the proposal runs counter to the Fuel Service Station Policy which does not allow extensions to existing fuel stations."

The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage noted that archaeological remains recorded along Triq Tal-Barrani include several Paleo-Christian catacombs. The archaeological monitoring of approved works within part of the same site footprint resulted in the discovery of agricultural rock-cut features. There is a risk that ground disturbance in this area may uncover cultural heritage features that may necessitate amendments to the proposed drawings." While not objecting to the development, the Superintendence tied this to the condition that works are to be archaeologically monitored.

The Environment and Resources Authority found that the application is objectionable and runs counter to policy.


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