Lands Authority starts review of al fresco permits

Following the removal of a controversial platform outside Cork's Irish Pub, the Lands Authority has announced it has started a process to check all 'al fresco' seating permits

The permit for Cork’s Irish bar’s outdoors platform was issued in the absence of any feedback by Transport Malta and against the advice of the MTA, which “noted that the area is somewhat busy with traffic and therefore the site is not ideal for tables and chairs”
The permit for Cork’s Irish bar’s outdoors platform was issued in the absence of any feedback by Transport Malta and against the advice of the MTA, which “noted that the area is somewhat busy with traffic and therefore the site is not ideal for tables and chairs”

After removing a controversial platform outside a bar on a busy Paceville road, the Lands Authority has started a process to check all ‘al fresco’ seating permits, the planning ministry said.

This announcement was made in reply to questions by MaltaToday on the removal of a controversial platform in front of Cork’s Irish Bar in Paceville, following an outcry in the media after the platform was erected following the issue of a planning permit.

This development raised questions on whether other establishments have all the necessary permits, including that from the Lands Authority.

The Cork’s permit was issued by the Planning Authority after the Government Property Division, which falls under the Lands Authority, issued its clearance for the permit. But the ministry for planning declared that the establishment had not followed the full procedure.

While the PA’s case officer said that the GPD had accepted the application, it turns out that the division only provides a standard clearance of ‘no objection in principle’ – which then allows an applicant to proceed with its application at the Planning Authority.

If the application is approved by the PA, the applicant has the responsibility to submit an application with the Malta Tourism Authority. If the MTA issues its clearance, the applicant has to submit an application with the Lands Authority. At this stage, the LA has every right “to review and decide whether to accept or deny the issuance of an encroachment permit”.

The ministry acknowledged that notwithstanding this procedure, there were establishments that were abusing the system and did not operate according to the permits in hand, “as was the situation with the establishment in question”.

The ministry spokesperson said the Lands Authority had over the past months invested in strengthening the enforcement team in order to be able to start a rigorous review.

The permit for Cork’s Irish bar’s outdoors platform was issued in the absence of any feedback by Transport Malta and against the advice of the MTA, which “noted that the area is somewhat busy with traffic and therefore the site is not ideal for tables and chairs”. It added however, that if the proposal was to be accepted, it should ensure safety to pedestrians.

The application was still recommended for approval by the PA’s case officer and unanimously approved by the three members of the PA’s planning commission. The permit was issued with a condition stipulating the erection of “safety bollards”.

The case officer also said that “traffic issues fall under the remit of Transport Malta” and not under the PA, but made no reference to the lack of consultation with Transport Malta.

It transpires that TM submitted its representation four days after the consultation period expired. The CRPD – commission for the right of persons with a disability – had also warned against issuing the permit because a clear pedestrian width should be maintained with no obstruction.

The case officer replied that a 1.5m clear pedestrian passage had been retained.

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