The Malta Independent 13 June 2024, Thursday
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Illegal structure in Vittoriosa built despite refusals and denied appeals, DLH says

Thursday, 23 May 2024, 09:26 Last update: about 21 days ago

An imposing metal tented structure has been placed outside BOA restaurant located along the historically sensitive Vittoriosa waterfront despite the Planning Authority and the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal both refusing permission for its installation, Din l-Art Helwa said in a statement Thursday. 

An application for the construction of the metal structure over tables and chairs on public open space in the vicinity of the historically sensitive Maritime Museum was filed in August 2021 (PA/06852/21). The application was outrightly refused by the Planning Authority since a fixed lightweight structure, as was being proposed, is simply inadmissible in Urban Conservation Areas such as the site in question. The Authority also deemed the structure to be visually intrusive, thereby compromising this protected Area of High Landscape Value, DLH said.

Following the refusal of the case, on 14 March 2022 the applicant filed an appeal. The applicant claimed that the Planning Commission was wrong to refuse the request since the proposal was in line with policy - though failed to state which policies would allow the proposed metal tented structure within an Urban Conservation Area.

Din l-Art Ħelwa, as an interested third party in the appeal, asserted that there were no planning justifications for installing the metal structure within this historical environment. The NGO said it argued that it was clear from the photomontages provided by the applicant that the proposed structure would have an adverse effect on the protected landscape of significant heritage value and should not be allowed. The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and Heritage Malta echoed these concerns, vehemently opposing the project due to its potentially destructive impact on this visually and historically sensitive area.

The Tribunal agreed with the objectors and confirmed the refusal of the proposed structure. 

Following this decision, the applicant chose to ignore both the Planning Authority and the tribunal and proceeded to build the metal tented structure anyway, DLH said. 

Din l-Art Ħelwa submitted a request for enforcement action to the Planning Authority. Despite the issuance of an enforcement order, no direct action has been taken. The individuals behind the unauthorised structure continue to benefit from it, with patrons regularly observed using the illegal tent, the NGO said.

Representing DLĦ, Perit Tara Cassar said "The Planning Commission and the tribunal both confirmed that the metal structure cannot be allowed on this site. As a result, the structure cannot be legalised through sanctioning; instead, it must be dismantled at once. Any delay only benefits the violator and encourages the laissez-faire attitude that has facilitated the gradual deterioration of our built environment.”


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