Illegal Gudja restaurant set for refusal

The Planning Directorate has shot down a proposal to allow tourism and commercial development on land in Dawret il-Gudja

The site is already the subject of an enforcement notice issued in August 2013
The site is already the subject of an enforcement notice issued in August 2013

The Planning Directorate has shot down a proposal to allow tourism and commercial development on land in Dawret il-Gudja, presented by the owners of a “restaurant” which according to the Planning Authority is operating without the necessary permits. The owners claim the building is only used for private functions.

But the case officer report confirms that “the government, which is the owner of the site, gave its no objection” to the proposal.

OSA Limited, which owns the “restaurant”, presented a planning control application to establish the parameters for development on the 12,000 sq.m Gudja site that had been included in the notorious 2006 extension of development boundaries.

The report confirms that the existing bar and restaurant have been built “without the necessary planning permissions.”  

Indeed the case officer contends that “a planning control application cannot be used as a sanctioning tool” to regularise planning irregularities.

The site is already the subject of an enforcement notice issued in August 2013 against “rooms, pavings, lofts, wooden structures, stores, oven structure” and “the use of the premises as bar and restaurant without a permit.”

The case officer concluded that the proposal goes against the criteria established in the 2006 rationalisation, which stipulates that only development compatible with the zoning set in the local plan can be allowed. In this case the area is zoned as “residential.”

The developers have argued that the proposal would generate enough income to ensure that open spaces are maintained in a professional way. 

When contacted last year, owner Anton Scicluna defended the legality of the use of his farmhouse for what he calls “private functions”, insisting that it is not a restaurant.

He also insisted that he was following existing procedures by seeking the Land Department’s consent.  

Scicluna’s plans envision a mixed-use commercial building, which includes “touristic oriented activities” over two floors, and a semi-basement on part of the site. 40% of the site would be kept undeveloped.  

The application refers to the development of a Class 3A development (guesthouses) and 3C development (leisure activities like gyms and theatres). The development would also include a picnic area and a parking area.

A final decision on the development still has to be taken by the PA’s executive board.

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