Permission to extend area for tables and chairs denied

The catering establishment is located adjacent to other similar outlets bordering a designated public open space in Marsascala

A planning application contemplating the extension of an “outdoor catering-area to an existing restaurant (class 4d)” was turned down by the Planning Commission.

The said catering establishment is located adjacent to other similar outlets bordering a designated public open space in Marsascala.

In order to justify its decision, the Commission underlined the following reasons:

The proposal ran counter to the provisions of policy SMSE 04 of the South Malta Local Plan which designates the site in question for ‘communal activity and children’s play area’;

The proposal was in breach of SPED Urban Objective 3 which aims to protect and enhance the character and amenity of urban areas;

The proposed tables and chairs ran counter to the Policy for Outdoor Catering Areas on Public Open Space, which states that outdoor catering areas shall not obstruct access to public amenities and shall not obstruct pedestrian access to street furniture.

In reply, applicant filed an appeal with the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, maintaining that permission should have been granted. Applicant, now appellant, argued that the ‘ the placing of tables and chairs around the square was done by all the catering establishments which are located there’.

In addition, it was highlighted that the proposed development would neither encroach on the existing playground, nor would ‘it obstruct any access to the facilities which are located there’.

For his part, the case officer representing the Authority counter argued that the proposed tables and chairs would occupy a public urban open space ‘that the Local Plan designates as a space for communal activity and children’s play area’.

The Tribunal was also reminded that applicant’s outlet was already equipped with an outdoor seating area. Concluding, the officer warned that the proposal would further entail ‘the removal of existing public benches present in the piazza’.

In its assessment, the Tribunal observed that the proposal would indeed result in the encroachment of an otherwise designated public open space.

After noting that applicant had already obtained permission to place tables and chairs in front of his premises, the Tribunal highlighted that the occupied depth was similar to that for the nearby outlets.

Acceding to applicant’s request, according to the Tribunal, would encroach onto the buffer zone sandwiched between the already permitted location and the rest of the designated public space.

On this basis, applicant’s request was rejected.