Fuel stations: most pending applications may fail under new policy

Under the proposed revision of fuel station rules, most of the pending 14 applications would be refused

Most of the pending applications for petrol stations are destined for refusal under a new policy draft issued for public consultation on Monday that will replace the controversial fuel stations policy.

But this depends on whether the Planning Authority will assess these applications before or after the approval of the new policy, which although applicable to all pending applications, is a process that may take months to conclude.

The proposed revision only allows development of fuel stations outside development zones on non-agricultural sites, and only if previous permits were issued for non-agricultural development, such as warehouses, which in this case would limit the footprint to 1,000sq.m. No size limit is imposed on petrol stations located in ODZ areas designated as industrial and storage zones and so-called areas of containment, which are transitional zones between the rural ODZ and commercial areas.

Applications which would face the axe if assessed under the new policy include the one proposed by Ludwig Camilleri on agricultural land in the road between Rabat and Mdina, the relocation of the Savina Petrol station in Rabat, Gozo to agricultural land along Hal Far road, and the extension of the fuel station approved opposite the Marsaskala family park to 3,000sq.m.

Also facing the axe is an electric-charging petrol station proposed by Tuminvest on a makeshift carpark, which is just outside an area of containment where petrol stations of unlimited footprint are presently allowed. Previously, non-relocated new petrol stations were allowed adjacent to these areas. But this is no longer the case with the new policy, which only allows the relocation of existing fuel stations.  Neither does the new policy allow catering areas as proposed in this application.

The new policy also does not permit a two-storey cafeteria with an outdoor area, adjacent to the Pit Stop fuel station in Attard, because catering facilities are not recognised as ancillary facilities for a fuel station.

The policy revision could endanger the construction of a 3,000sq.m petrol station in Maghtab, proposed by Paul Abela, whose permit was recently revoked by the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal for procedural reasons. The application was referred back to the PA’s planning board before the issue of the new policy. But the PA board had to refrain from taking a decision due to an appeal against the revocation presented in the law courts. This means that if the court appeal is refused, the only way for the PA to approve it would be through the existing policy.

Two other refused applications are also awaiting the outcome of an appeal presented by the applicants before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal.  Since the new policy still has to be approved, the appeal will be assessed under present rules.

Only a handful of current applications may be approved under the new policy. These include the one located in the Polidano Brothers complex in Hal Farrug, which is designated as an area of containment. But its approval forms part of a more comprehensive application to sanction illegalities in the area. The upgrade of the Dad’s Petrol Station in St Paul’s Bay and a fuel station proposed on a storage site in Mqabba may also be approved under the new policy if contained in the 1000sq.m limit.

Applicant Location Assessment under new policy
Ludwig Camilleri Midna Road (between Attard and Rabat) Site larger than 1,000sq.m and located on agricultural land this ineligible under new policy
Tuminvest Gas and Electric Recharge station proposed on carpark in Mdina road (next to KIA showroom) outside neighbouring area of containment Larger than 1000sq.m. The application does not foresee a relocation and includes a catering establishment
Frans Schembri Pitstop, Attard. Application foresees new catering area Catering establishments in petrol stations not allowed by new policy
Charles Mifsud Mdina Road, Zebbug Site larger than 1,000sq.m in a rural area
Michael Zammit Hal Far Road, Birzebbugia Site larger than 1,000sq.m located on agricultural land
Patrick Guntrip Proposed extension to already approved petrol station along Triq Sant Antnin, Marsakala Site larger than 1,000sq.m
Colin Sant Upgrade of Dad's Petrol Station in St Paul's Bay Site larger than 1,000sq.m but located on distributed land
Shawn Farrugia Tal-Andar ta' Fuq in Mqabba (in open storage area) Site larger than 1,000sq.m
Paul Abela Ta-Arznu Maghtab Site larger than 1,000sq.m
Polidano Brothers Located in Polidano Plant in Hal Farrugia Located in area of containment where fuel stations are allowed over 1,000sq.m limit
Emmanuel Falzon Triq Villabate Zabbar Over 1,000sq.m limit and site is not committed by previous permits.
Neil Buhagiar Proposed extension of existing petrol station next to Hompesch Gate Zabbar Over 1,000sq.m limit and encroaches rural area
Paul Falzon Triq tal-Balal, l-Iklin Site larger than 1,000sq.m
Paul Vella Triq-Blata L-Gholjia, Mosta Site larger than 1,000sq.m


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