Planning ombudsman rues obstruction of pavements by al fresco restaurants

The Commissioner for Environment and Planning claims that local restaurants are obstructing pavements with tables and chairs aimed at attracting more diners

The commissioner for environment and planning has called for an inspection into the obstruction to public walkways by table and chairs placed as extensions to catering establishments.

Referencing a report issued five years ago, the commissioner said that local restaurants abuse the space afforded to them by overtaking public pavements with extensions.

“Clearly there is need for a combined ‘task force’ to carry out the necessary inspections for reining in abusers,” said the commissioner.

The obstruction problem is exacerbated by build-outs, loss of parking spaces and noise pollution, according to the commissioner.

Pavement areas which have been extended onto the roadway are “an accident waiting to happen” since they leave no space for emergency manoeuvring for vehicles.

Local Councils also lamented the loss of kerbside parking spaces that result from the restaurant extensions overtaking the area.

“Which of the permitting authorities is responsible for the health and safety aspect of such development?” asked the Commissioner. Transport Malta and the Malta Tourism Authority and the Lands Authority all have various responsibilities related to the problem.

The environment and planning commissioner claimed that the noise generated by these establishments goes unchecked, creating inconvenience and stress for residents, local councils and police.

The commissioner also lamented the lack of hygiene control over the public areas, where diners eat in an environment “thick with dust and exhaust fumes”. Health Authorities need to be concerned about concrete mixers, traffic jams and fumes permeating the air while diners enjoy their meals.

Questions sent to the Environmental Health Directorate by the commissioner requesting information on food safety procedures have gone unanswered.

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