Two villas proposed instead of Maghtab petrol station

Abelcare proposes ‘recreation’ of farmhouses demolished to make way for petrol station into residential villas with pools

The company planning for a petrol station on the Salina road intersection on the Alla W Ommu Hill, is now applying to have the two original farmhouses demolished for the petrol pump, rebuilt.

Abelcare dropped the derelict farmhouses to make way for a petrol station on a 3,500 sq.m site on the Salina road, after the Planning Authority approved its application for a fuel station – set outside the building zones – in 2017.

But subsequently the permit was revoked and the application sent back for the PA board’s consideration. In July, the board voted to reject the development.

The two 19th century farmhouses set over 420 sq.m had been abandoned and were in a dilapidated state before their demolition.

A new application by the same company now foresees the erection of two new residences with swimming pools, each having a footprint of 187 sq.m and a pool and deck area of 35 sq.m. The houses will be built over a plot area of 3,577 sq.m. Over 75% of the site will be covered with soil.

But since the developer has appealed against the PA’s latest refusal to the petrol station, the application to construct the two villas may be a fallback position if the appeal is turned down.

Planning saga

In 2016, the PA board refused the permit for a petrol station by six votes to three for being in breach of the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED).

But the EPRT overturned the refusal, arguing that the board failed to explain why SPED policies protecting the rural environment should take precedence over the fuel stations policy, which allow urban pumps to be relocated to ODZ and rural areas.

That permit was brought back to the board in December 2017, with board members first indicating they would be refusing it, only to then vote in favour in January 2018.

But in April 2019 the permit was revoked again by the EPRT for procedural reasons brought up in an appeal presented by residents, namely the PA’s failure to upload documents before the decision was taken. The case was taken back to the Planning board which rejected the application in July.

The reason given by the board for rejecting the application was the coming in to force of a strategic plan for Maghtab approved in 2018 regulating development in the Maghtab area, made it clear that the controversial fuel station policy does not apply to this area.

But in an appeal the developers contend that since the permit was only revoked because of the PA’s shortcomings, the PA cannot now invoke a policy which came in place after the permit was issued to turn it down, describing this action as a “violation of the rights and legitimate expectations of the applicant.”

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