A snack bar can be accommodated in an industrial area

A 2009 planning application ‘to sanction the change of use from a car showroom to a Class 6 snack bar’ was turned down by the Environment and Planning Commission on a number of planning grounds.

As a preliminary point, the Commission noted that the Central Malta Local Plan designates this particular area as an SME (Small Medium Enterprise) site. SMEs are subject to Policy QO08 of the said Local plan, which in turn excludes Class 6 operations in such areas. 

On this basis, the Commission maintained that the snack bar cannot be sanctioned as requested. In addition, the Commission held that the proposal amounts to the potential loss of industrial space, thus in conflict with  Policy 14.6 of the Policy and Design Guidance (2007) which expressly states that "in areas zoned for industrial development, MEPA will not grant permission for the change of use to non industrial use." 

In conclusion, the Commission observed that the fire safety and ventilation report (that was submitted by applicant during the application process) was not according to acknowledged standards as no indication of the benchmarks or standards were included. The proposal was also deemed objectionable from a transport point of view since the premises are located in a corner.

In reaction, applicant submitted an appeal before the Environment and Planning Trubunal, maintaining that Class 6 (a) use is in effect allowed by virtue of Policy CG 15 of the Local Plan. Concurrently, applicant made specific reference to the PAVI supermarket which was granted a planning permit notwithstanding it being lcated within a designated  industrial zone. In fact, applicant contended that the Pavi supermarket, which occupies 4 tumoli of designated industrial land, incorporates also a restaurant measuring an area of 500 square metres. Applicant proceeded by making refernce to several other permits where class 6 use was expressly permitted within industrial zones. (The permits quoted refer to Mriehel and Tal-Handaq area).

For its part, the Tribunal observed that the premises were of a limited size (40 square metres), adding that the likelihood of accomodating industrial operations within such a restricted space was far too remote. 

More so, the Tribunal held that no adverse traffic impact was envisaged since the area is already committed with heavy industrial activity. Against this background, the Tribunal approved the permit subject to the conditions attached in the fire safety and ventilation report.

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