Rabat road petrol pump set for refusal

Ludwig Camilleri’s attempt to relocate a petrol station from Birkirkara’s Valley Road to outside the development zones on the Rabat Road near Attard may have reached the end of the road, with the petrol station set for refusal

Camilleri’s site is 375m away from Attard’s Pit Stop station, which the case officer rightly notes is easily accessible from the opposite lane
Camilleri’s site is 375m away from Attard’s Pit Stop station, which the case officer rightly notes is easily accessible from the opposite lane

It may be the end of the road for Ludwig Camilleri’s attempt to relocate a petrol station from Birkirkara’s Valley Road to outside the development zones on the Rabat Road near Attard.

Camilleri, the son of former Lorry Sant associate Piju Camilleri, acquired the petrol pump’s licence in 2014, and had first applied for its relocation to Salini.

When that “non-starter” was dropped from pursuing a planning permit, he relocated the pump to land he owns on the Rabat road. But this relocation is now being recommended for refusal.

The same plot of land at Rmiedi had been previously identified for a private cemetery developed by Camilleri’s Luqa Developments. But the application was withdrawn after a policy in 2014 ruled out any new ODZ cemeteries.

Earlier in 1993, the Planning Authority issued an enforcement order against Michael Axisa for constructing an illegal dwelling on the site.

Although the dwelling was removed, the site was never restored.

Although the Planning Authority’s board is bound to reject the relocation in its 25 July meeting, it might not be the end to this long planning saga: the PA’s decision will be based on the present rules governing relocated fuel stations.

The application fulfils most of the criteria of the existing policy, which permits massive 3,000 sq.m developments in the ODZ; butu the PA’s planning directorate is calling for a refusal because the nearby Pit Stop petrol pump is just 500m away, a point being disputed by Camilleri.

Now a draft policy to revise the controversial fuel pump policy, still awaiting approval, would automatically rule out ODZ fuel stations on agricultural land, apart from limiting them to 1,000 sq.m.

But the government has turned down a proposal by Moviment Graffitti to postpone all decisions on petrol stations until after the approval of the new policy.

This means that a refusal by the PA board could be overturned at appeals stage by the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, whose meetings attract less media attention.

The PA’s case officer says Camilleri’s application is in breach of policy because it is located less than 500m from an existing service station “which although located on the opposite lane, is easily accessible”; and because his site is within a 300m buffer zone for groundwater – yet the applicant has relocated the fuel tanks right outside that buffer zone.

Camilleri’s greatest stumbling block is that the fuel service stations rules could allow establishments within 500m of a nearby site, if located on the opposite side of the road "if it can be demonstrated that traffic on the opposite lane from the existing petrol station cannot easily access it”.

Camilleri’s site is 375m away from Attard’s Pit Stop station, which the case officer rightly notes is easily accessible from the opposite lane.

But the developer has recently presented a map from the design of the new Central Road Link, claiming the distance between the proposed and the existing station would now be extended to 510m. The Environment and Resources Authority had accused the developer of going to great lengths with an over-stretched interpretation of the entry points, “so as to arrive at a figure that just exceeds the policy threshold”.

Camilleri’s fuel station is on “degraded” land where material removed through a PA direct action, was again illegally dumped. The ERA insists that the land should be restored and that it cannot serve as a pretext for further ODZ development.

The site also includes 377 sq.m of vines, which have a high agriculture value. But in the latest drawings the vineyard is not impinged.

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