Suq tal-Belt canopies hit by planning enforcement

The Planning Authority has issued an enforcement order on canopies outside the Suq tal-Belt for which a permit for ‘retractable awnings’ was issued in June 2018

The awnings outside Suq tal-Belt have been slapped with an enforcement order
The awnings outside Suq tal-Belt have been slapped with an enforcement order

The Planning Authority has issued an enforcement order against the erection of two canopies outside the Suq tal-Belt obstructing views of the protected building.

The owners are liable to pay daily fines which start from €10 and which can rise to €50, a year after the notification date.

The planning enforcement was issued against Arkadia Marketing Limited which operates the food court in the Suq tal-Belt and the Commissioner of Lands.

The enforcement order says that the “permanent” structures were built without a permit and obstructing the façade of a scheduled building.

The awnings cover the seated area outside the historic building
The awnings cover the seated area outside the historic building

While awnings were constructed over the square the previous winter, these were not permanent and had been removed.

In June 2018, the PA had approved shading canopies over the approved seating area through a development notification order.

The application referred both to a ‘temporary solution’ consisting of separate umbrellas to be erected for six months and a ‘permanent solution’ consisting of retractable awnings, similar to the ones erected. The retractable awnings had to rise to 3.5 metres.

It is unclear how the existing structures conflict with the permit issued last year.

The structures were criticised by former Valletta mayor Paul Borg Olivier a few weeks ago, who lamented the obstruction they caused to the historic building’s façade.

In May 2018, the PA board had approved the application for the sanctioning of chairs and tables in front of the Valletta market building, with 10 votes in favour and one against.

The application also included a permit so that the area consisting of tables and chairs will be surrounded by a glass structure.

During the PA hearing, spokespersons for the Valletta market stated that they signed an agreement with Valletta 18 and the Malta Arts Council so that every month there will be at least one cultural activity inside the market building.

Built in the 1860s, Valletta's covered market, popularly known as Is-Suq tal-Belt, had been restored by the Arkadia Group at the cost of €14 million after it was granted a 65-year-long lease by Parliament, that unanimously approved the deed in 2016.

The underground floor consists of a supermarket while the ground floor includes a food court.

An additional upper level constructed above the scheduled building, includes a cafeteria and is used for private functions and cultural events.

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