MEPA approves relocation of Munchies kiosk

MEPA approves relocation of "illegal" Munchies kiosk to an area next to the Spiaggia D'Oro kiosk.

The Mepa board unanimously approved the transfer of the Munchies Kiosk from the middle of Golden Bay to a site adjacent to the car park and the Spiaggia D'Oro Kiosk.  Although most of the new  facility will be located under the carpark, the new development will include  an 80 square meter terrace overlooking the beach.  The kiosk which presently occupies an ecologically sensitive area must be dismantled by the end of next month.

Mepa has postponed taking a decision  on the relocation of the Munchies kiosk by a week, following a dispute on the ownership of part of the land where the controversial Munchies kiosk is to be relocated.

The planning directorate had previously recommended the approval of the relocation of the kiosk presently located on the beach to an area located under the present car park.  The development also includes a smaller structure over the carpark and  an 80 square meter open terrace, described as a belvedere, where tables and chairs will be placed. Six parking spaces from the existing carpark will be lost as a result of development.

During the meeting it emerged that despite the planning illegality, the restaurant has a license from the commissioner of lands. 

The belvedere and the structure on the present car park  was not foreseen in the 2004 outline permit, which also stipulated that all development was to be underground.

Last week Lawyer Franco Vassallo insisted that the structure is legal, having been leased from government since 1990 before the area was scheduled by MEPA as a grade 1 protected Natura 2000 site.  Last year, MEPA issued an enforcement notice against what it considered an illegal development on scheduled land. The enforcement order refers to “the construction and repeated extensions” of the Munchies kiosk which covers 465 square metres of a Grade 1 scheduled site.

The case officer’s report calling for an approval of the restaurant claims that the new permit is not meant to provide a “substitute for the offending (illegal) structure”, but acknowledges that this “effectively will be the end result”. 

But the case officer has insisted that the Planning Directorate would still have recommended the project’s approval “had there been a different applicant”.

One of the three reasons for approving the permit is that it will remove the existing kiosk, sited as it is within a Level 1 area of ecological importance.

The proposal involves the construction of a restaurant located under the existing public car park.

The proposal entails digging into the car park to reach the beach level and create an underground space for the new establishment. The main outlet for the new unit will therefore be in line with the current alignment of the retaining wall of the car park, representing the only “façade” of the new establishment at this level.

This proposal was already approved in principle in 2005, but back then the outline permit specified that all structures were to be built under the car park.

The present proposal, which is larger than the illegal restaurant set to be removed, also involves the construction of an access in the existing car park occupying 24 square metres and a terrace to accommodate a number of tables and chairs.

“The newly created terrace will provide an open space overlooking the beach from a higher level, thus providing a belvedere type terrace which will be used for the placing of tables and chairs,” the case officer’s report states. 

The layout of the proposed restaurant includes a customer floor space of 180 square metres, a kitchen and preparation area, bar, stores, freezers and cold room and other ancillary facilities, such as lockers, changing room and toilets for an additional floor area of approximately 340 square metres.

In 2008, MEPA’s advisory committee on natural heritage demanded the authority stop processing this application because it was in breach of the outline permit, since part of the construction was above road level. Photomontages of the project presented by the applicant in fact show an intensification of cluttered development on the hotel side of the beach.

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