Transport Malta stops Hamrun kiosk drive-in

PA approves kiosk extension which is 12sq.m greater than allowed by policy

The case officer had originally proposed the approval of both the kiosk extension and the parking bays carved in the square
The case officer had originally proposed the approval of both the kiosk extension and the parking bays carved in the square

The Planning Authority has issued a permit for the redevelopment and extension of the existing kiosk in Pjazza San Pawl in Hamrun. But the Planning Authority turned down a proposed “drive-in” carved in the public square.

Transport Malta had originally expressed no objection to the parking bays for five cars proposed by the kiosk owner. But on 7 July, it submitted an objection to the proposed parking bay on grounds of public safety.  

In its latest memo TM insisted that the parking bays proposed in the square should not be approved and the existing road alignment should be retained “as this location is not considered a safe location for parking bays, considering the existing junction layout”. TM also insisted that an existing zebra crossing should be retained at this location.

But while turning down the proposed parking bays, the Planning Authority accepted a kiosk extension which according to the case officer is in breach of a policy which limits kiosks to 20m2.  

The case officer had originally proposed the approval of both the kiosk extension and the parking bays carved in the square. The case officer report confirmed that the proposal is 12 square metres in excess of the allowable floor space set by the policy regulating kiosk developments. 

But in the first report this was considered “an adequate and allowable exception when considering the area of the piazza, and also when considering similar developments”.

But on 22 June the Environment Planning Commission chaired by architect Elizabeth Ellul had asked the architect to upload fresh drawings to limit the size of the kiosk to 20sq.m or to the existing size, and reduce the area of the tables to what was permitted on the same site.  But on that occasion the EPC did not object to the proposed parking bays carved into the public garden.

After the owner failed to present new plans downsizing the proposed kiosk the case officer issued a recommendation for refusal. 

The reason given was that the kiosk extension was in breach both of the policy regulating kiosks which limits kiosks to 20m2 and was also in breach of the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development because  “a larger space will be occupied by the proposed kiosk (including outside tables and chairs), and will be used for commercial activity rather than as a public open space”.

But surprisingly the EPC, which had originally indicated that the extension was in breach of policy, had a change of mind arguing that the kiosk as approved in 1997 was already larger than 20m2.  

The kiosk was originally rebuilt following a permit issued in 1997. The permit also allowed the owner to set tables around the kiosk itself.

Architect Hector Zammit, who represented kiosk owner Alfred Cacciatolo argued that the kiosk extension was justified due to its location in a large open space and by its location in a corner of the piazza opposite  a number of commercial outlets including a shopping complex, other food outlets, a number of bars and a bank.

“The new design of the kiosk makes the latter a landmark building in the said piazza”. 

Moreover, according to Zammit although the kiosk design is a contemporary one, the design as well as the materials used blend well with the surroundings.

The seating area will be relocated to a more central part of the piazza instead.  Zammit defended this re-location.

“In view of the new design of the kiosk, the seating area as approved cannot be accommodated around the proposed kiosk. Moreover, the tables and chairs as proposed are concentrated in one area and not scattered around the kiosk thus enhancing the visual amenity of the area”, Zammit said.

Zammit also highlighted the fact that no objections were made to the proposal by the Government Property Division and by the Hamrun local council.  In fact the only objection made to the project was made by PN councillors.

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