Burmarrad’s rural character threatened by ODZ supermarket and mega fuel station

Extravagant land take-up on the edge of rural Burmarrad for new supermarket and mega fuel station

The fields where the supermarket and petrol station will be built are outside the Burmarrad development zone, at the edge of the village
The fields where the supermarket and petrol station will be built are outside the Burmarrad development zone, at the edge of the village

The Planning Authority is being faced with two requests for permits for two establishments outside development zones (ODZ) and adjacent to each other: a petrol station and a supermarket, both at the edge of Burmarrad Road, and both sprawling into the rural environment that characterises the road from Mosta to Burmarrad. 

The supermarket is being proposed by Bonnici Brothers, while the new petrol station is proposed by Bonnici Stores, an unconnected company. Originally it was presented 11 years ago but is now being processed according to the controversial policy approved in 2014 regulating ODZ fuel stations, which policy also happens to be under review. 

The PA has already approved an ODZ petrol station 1.2 km away from the proposed site on the other edge of Burmarrad, opposite the Kiabi discount store – itself approved outside development zones instead of the former winery back in 2015. 

In a scathing report assessing the environmental impact assessment presented by the developers earlier on this year, the Environment and Resources Authority described the proposed petrol station as one involving an “extravagant land take-up”.  

The proposal envisages the relocation of a kerbside petrol station in the residential part of Burmarrad. But ERA insists this is not a simple relocation but a “major expansion” - because there will be, apart from a fuel service station with autogas and electric charging station, a car wash and drying area, a garage for vehicle maintenance and testing, commercial premises selling car consumables and other items, an ancillary office and staff facilities, and a store used for items relating to the garage. Seven dispensers will be installed to dispense liquid fuels from a total of 36 hoses, with an addition of two autogas dispensers having two hoses each and two electric car charging points. 

According to the EIA, the proposal will result in the direct loss of around 3,770 sq.m of agricultural land, which is considered to be of medium agricultural quality. The site is largely fallow. 

In objecting to this fuel station ERA has reiterated its consistent position that there is no valid justification for the further loss of undeveloped land outside the development zone boundary, for the development of petrol stations.  

The ERA had also recently objected to a supermarket proposed by Bonnici Brothers, saying there was no justification in taking up agricultural land to have a supermarket in an area which was already served by at least two nearby facilities. 

The environment watchdog is pointing out that apart from Scotts Supermarket in Burmarrad, which is 750 metres away, there is Piscopo Cash and Carry, just five minutes away by car. 

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