Restaurant by the pumps: fuel station’s piecemeal plan to add two-storey eatery

McQueens petrol station in Burmarrad wants to build a full-blown restaurant on land currently used for parking

McQueens petrol station in Burmarrad wants to build a full-blown restaurant on land currently used for parking
McQueens petrol station in Burmarrad wants to build a full-blown restaurant on land currently used for parking

The McQueens petrol station opposite Burmarrad’s Kiabi store wants a full-blown restaurant instead of land, now used for parking, which in 2017 was still agricultural land.

The two-storey catering establishment will be spread over 200sq.m.

The Burmarrad fuel station was one of four beneficiaries of the discarded fuel stations policy approved in 2015, which permitted 3,000sq.m petrol stations on agricultural land outside development zones (ODZ).

But the present policy approved in April only permits relocations from residential areas, bans any such development on agricultural land, and restricts any relocated fuel station to 1,000sq.m.

The latest application in Burmarrad foresees the excavation of the existing parking area to create a two-level underground, as well as extending its car accessories shop into an area currently occupied by a smaller catering establishment approved just a few months ago.

This is the third consecutive piecemeal application approved in the Burmarrad petrol station since 2017.

The petrol station was already approved on a site listed as an Area of Agricultural Importance, and despite both the Environment and Resources Authority and the Agriculture Advisory Committee objecting to its development on cultivable land.

The fuel station was approved thanks to a loophole through which ODZ land could be allocated for the development of brand new fuel stations and not just relocated ones, when the land is located next to an area of containment, a designation for commercial areas located outside development zones.

The area as it was prior to 2017
The area as it was prior to 2017

In 2017, the applicants had no catering establishment in their plans. But in 2018, the Planning Authority approved a 58sq.m snack bar – where no cooking is allowed – on land originally allocated for a car accessories shop. Earlier this year the owners were granted a change-of-use permit to allow cooking on site.

The 2015 policy vaguely allowed ancillary structures which “complement” fuel stations. But while the revised fuel stations rules banned catering or shops on such sites, this was changed in the policy’s final version.

Still, most of the loopholes for ODZ petrol stations were closed, as in the case of the Burmarrad station,  where retail and catering facilities are restricted to ground floor level only. So the two-level catering facility being proposed is already in breach of the new policy.

The McQueens petrol station is owned by Construction and Turnkey House Ltd, a company owned by Joseph Attard and Anthony Ciappara. Attard was also the owner of Sunjoy company, which he co-owned with parliamentary secretary Chris Agius. The company was later struck off.

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