The Malta Independent 13 August 2022, Saturday

Marsascala restaurant takes up pavement, impedes zebra crossing with illegal wooden structure

Albert Galea Sunday, 26 June 2022, 07:30 Last update: about 3 months ago

A restaurant in Marsascala has seemingly taken certain development matters into its own hands, as it illegally built a wooden structure which has taken up part of the pavement and impeded access to a zebra crossing.

The case, brought to the attention of The Malta Independent by readers who live in Marsascala, involved the popular Taninu Bistro, situated along Triq is-Salini in Marsascala, which overlooks the locality’s well-known bay.

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The restaurant, as shown by pictures posted by patrons on its Google Reviews page, already used to occupy part of the pavement outside its premises with tables and chairs; however this outdoor operation was expanded last April.

Around the Easter period last April, the restaurant constructed a wooden structure mimicking solid wooden beams on the pavement in front of its doors.  The structure starts close to the restaurant’s façade and extends to the edge of the pavement.

The pavement itself appears to have been extended as well, with a corner on either side showing different concrete to the rest of the pavement.  As a result of the accretions, the pavement has been squared out, which means that the wooden structure itself fits neatly along the edges.

A ramp for a zebra crossing also runs right through the middle of the area covered by the wooden structure, although pictures on Google do not show that any tables are actually placed on or in front of the ramp.

On one side of the structure, two of the wooden beams – which appear to actually be hollow – have been sawn off.  Planters have also been placed on either side, acting as a buffer for any drivers which want to park their cars adjacent to the structure.

No permits covering the wooden structure could be located on the Planning Authority’s servers – precisely because the structure is not covered by any permits and was built illegally.

This was confirmed by the Planning Authority as it responded to questions from The Malta Independent on the development.

Asked whether it was aware of the development and whether any enforcement action had been taken against it, a spokesperson for the authority replied stating that a complaint against the development was filed on 18 April this year.

“This was investigated and an application to sanction has been submitted,” the PA’s spokesperson said.

The application itself is not yet public because it is being validated by the authority – a standard process with applications before they are given a PA number and made public.

“The PA needs to await a decision on this application. Should the application be refused, the Compliance and Enforcement Directorate will follow up the case for the necessary action to be taken,” the spokesperson said.

The issue concerning the tables and chairs of restaurants and their encroachment onto public pavements has been a hot topic.

Residents in Marsascala itself have complained about how restaurants – including this one – make it difficult for the public to navigate the promenade, while the issue of restaurants taking up public space has made headlines in other localities such as Valletta and Sliema.

One restaurant in Sliema prompted particular anger after it constructed a blue glass box along the Sliema Strand, with the town’s local council leading the charge against it.

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the take-up of public pavements with tables and chairs, particularly after the Malta Tourism Authority granted restaurants special permission to create such outdoor catering areas during the pandemic recovery so that they can make up for a more limited indoor capacity as a result of social distancing regulations.

As the pandemic has eased, many of these restaurants and establishments have sought to make their outdoor areas permanent, and have filed applications with the Planning Authority to this end.

 

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