PA to decide on petrol station set on agricultural land before policy revision

The PA will be deciding the fate of an application to relocate a miniscule kerbside petrol station in Burmarrad to 1,650 sq.m of certified ‘good’ agricultural land in the same locality

Despite repeated protests including a five-day sit-in by Moviment Graffitti on the delayed revision of the controversial fuel station policy approved in 2014, tomorrow the Planning Board will be deciding the fate of an application to relocate a miniscule kerbside petrol station in Burmarrad to 1,650 sq.m of certified ‘good’ agricultural land in the same locality.

Despite the policy’s ban that petrol stations be sited on “good quality agricultural land”, the Planning Authority’s planning directorate is still recommending the approval of the petrol station, on land whose value was certified by the PA’s agricultural advisory committee.

The committee based its assessment on a report on soil quality presented in an Environment Impact Assessment in March 2018, which found the fields had the potential to sustain two to three crops per year, generating annual potential earnings of up to €11,000 per tumolo.

In recommending approval the case officer noted that the applicant had reduced the fuel station’s footprint from 3,770 sq.m to 1,680 sq.m. In the 1990s the PA had twice rejected similar applications by the same owner, since the area in question at the edge of the hamlet was designated as a rural conservation area.

Now the PA case officer is claiming that development is acceptable because it is in line with the intentions of the Fuel Service Station Policy. “The proposed fuel station may be considered positively since the community would benefit from the relocation of an existing fuel station both in terms of safety and good neighbourliness.”

PA set to refuse ODZ old people’s home

The Planning Board is also expected to refuse an ODZ old people’s home proposed by Saint Paul’s Residential Homes, a company owned by Joseph Gaffarena. The case officer has deemed the proposed home on the side of the Tal-Hawli valley, to be in breach of the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED).

The 2770 sq.m site is designated as an Area of Scientific Importance/Area of Ecological Importance and includes a number of mature trees, which will have to be uprooted.  As proposed the home would consist of 49 rooms, over four levels above ground, and two basement levels.

The proposal was deemed unacceptable by the Environment and Resources Authority, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage and the Design Advisory Committee.

Apart from its ecological impact the proposal was deemed to s inappropriate in an area designated for its High Landscape Value in view of the Harbour Fortifications and adjacent to the military glacis of Birgu.

The site in Burmarrad earmaked for development
The site in Burmarrad earmaked for development

While rejecting the old people’s home proposed in Birgu the Authority is expected to approve the extension of Saint Vincent De Paul.

The application foresees the development of four residential blocks to accommodate 490 residents accommodated in 190 rooms over five levels. The proposal also includes the construction of one surface car park catering for 264 vehicles. The whole project will occupy an area of circa 16,500 square metres.

The development will take place on the grounds of St. Vincent de Paule complex, located in Triq l-Imgieret, Luqa  The site consists of vacant land, a number of scattered trees, some rural structures, a mortuary and a substation.

Most of the land is already designated in the local plan for the development of Social and Community Facilities.

But it also includes an extra 600 sq.m of ODZ land at the southern edge of the site. Required because of Transport Malta’s plans to change the road alignment for Triq Hal-Qormi.

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