MEPA clamps down on restaurant in 18th century fort

Platform added to the historical 18th century fort, encroaching on small beach

The platform constructed on the historical redoubt
The platform constructed on the historical redoubt

The Las Palmas restaurant, located within an 18th century fort in Bahar ic-Caghaq, has been served with an enforcement notice after a metal railing structure to serve as a raised platform for tables, chairs and umbrellas was erected at the back of the building a few weeks ago.

The resulting illegalities are encroaching on a small sandy beach in the area.

The scheduled historical building, constructed in the 18th century by the Order of St John, enjoys the highest level of protection, is leased from the government and is presently used as a bar and restaurant.

The illegal structure is not affixed to the redoubt but still impinges on views of the fort.

Ten years ago, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority issued an enforcement notice against the construction of a timber tent, pillars, an extension to the structure and a retaining wall.

This enforcement order specifically referred to works on the walls of the historical building.

The government property division was alerted to these illegalities.

In 2003, MEPA refused to issue the permit but the decision was overturned a year later when the works were regularised against the advice of the Planning Directorate in 2004.

On 14 March, 2013 the tenant applied to carry out alterations to the property and to place tables and chairs at room level. The application is still being processed by MEPA.

While not objecting in principle to proposed works, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage objected to the development of a roof level as this was deemed incompatible with the scheduled status of the building.

According to existing law, MEPA cannot issue a permit on a site where illegalities are still in place. Moreover the law also states that MEPA cannot regularise illegalities in scheduled monuments. But this could change in the next few months as the government intends to change the law preventing MEPA from regularising illegalities on scheduled sites, preferring to impose fines.

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