Rabat road landowner appeals fuel station refusal

Ludwig Camilleri, the owner of the land on the Rabat Road in the vicinity of the St Mary of Victories chapel, has appealed the Planning Authority’s unanimous refusal of his proposal petrol station

The final decision on the refusal of the 3,000sq.m petrol station along the Rabat Road will be decided according to current rules, despite being set to be replaced by a more stringent regime on petrol pump developments.

Ludwig Camilleri, the owner of the land on the Rabat Road in the vicinity of the St Mary of Victories chapel, has appealed the Planning Authority’s unanimous refusal of his proposal petrol station.

Under a proposed regime set to replace the 2014 petrol pump rules, Camilleri’s application would have been automatically refused because the new rules will exclude petrol stations on agricultural land, and such developments are only limited to 1,000sq.m when the land is outside development zones but committed by other developments.

Camilleri’s appeal, filed by the former Planning Authority CEO Ian Stafrace, disputes the refusal, reached because the nearby Pit Stop petrol station in Attard is at a distance of less than 500m from his proposed fuel station. Camilleri’s architect claims the distance is actually 502m, and 510m apart, using the future configuration of the Central Link road project.

Camilleri is protesting that his suggestion to “drastically” reduce the size of a proposed shop was not taken into consideration, and that the PA applied different criteria to those used to approve other ODZ petrol stations.

The proposed 3,000sq.m development includes both a petrol station and car wash, and was initially recommended for refusal by the PA’s case officer.

The Attard petrol station saga

Camilleri, son of Piju Camilleri, advisor to the former Labour minister Lorry Sant, acquired a Birkirkara petrol station licence in 2014, with the intention of relocating it to a property outside development zones.

After considering a site in Salina, deemed to be a non-starter by the environment directorate (now the Environment and Resources Authority), he requested permission for his land on the Rabat Road, at the mouth of Attard.

He had already earmarked the site for a private cemetery in 2011, but development of new cemeteries on ODZ land was precluded by a new policy approved in 2014.

In the 1990s the site had been subject to a planning enforcement against an illegal dwelling by Michael Axisa, but the debris was left on site. Camilleri’s proposal is located on the part of the site impacted by this enforcement.

The Attard local council agrees with the case officer’s recommendation to refuse the development. “There is no justification for the take-up of undeveloped land after Attard lost 50,000sq.m of agricultural land to the Central Link project.”

ERA chairman Victor Axiak agreed with the council that one should not lose even more land than what was lost for Central Link project, simply to relocate a very small pump to a much larger area. Axiak said the draft petrol station policy still under review would have ruled the proposal out automatically.

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