A hotel at Gżira seafront has been refused permission to set up tables and chairs outside its premises, despite arguing that many similar permits had already been granted along the same road.

The Administrative Review Tribunal upheld a decision by the Board of Governors of the Lands Authority that the permit should not be granted to the Waterfront Hotel because it would take up two parking spaces and because of safety concerns.

The tribunal said that in considering development issues one needed to consider the circumstances existing at the time of the development application.

“What was allowed and permissible in years gone by is not necessarily valid and acceptable today.

What was allowed and permissible in years gone by is not necessarily valid and acceptable today

“It is the tribunal's humble opinion that the Board of Governors (of the Lands Authority) has a right, and a duty, to review what, in its opinion, could have been done better in the past, as long as its decisions are reasonable in the circumstances,” tribunal president Charmaine Galea said in her ruling.

In its appeal, the hotel complained that in its decision, the board only said it was denying the permit request because of safety concerns and parking take-up, without citing any policies or giving detail.

The hotel said its application would only have taken up two parking spaces, and in terms of Planning Authority policies, the placing of tables and chairs could still be considered if ‘planning gain’ was enforced.

As for the alleged danger, it insisted that its proposed structure respected the Policy Guidance and Standards for Outdoor Catering Areas on Public Open Spaces. It respected the needs of public access and was safe, with the design including bollards and safety planters to protect against vehicle collision. No obstruction was caused to traffic.

The hotel also pointed out how several other similar permits had been issued along the street.

But in rejecting the hotel’s appeal, the tribunal said the Board of the Lands Authority had discretion to consider each application on its merits and the reasons it had given were clear and easy to understand.

There was a serious parking problem at Gżira seafront and it should not be made any worse, especially when the hotel, located in a corner, itself attracted traffic, including coaches and taxis.

The tribunal said it was not convinced that the structure and protection proposed by the hotel offered enough safety given the substantial amount of traffic along this road and the speed of the vehicles.

The proposed development constituted a real risk of a tragedy as happened recently when vehicles mounted the pavement, killing or injuring pedestrians. The danger was compounded when tables and chairs were actually put in the street.

The permit application was therefore rejected. 

Stefano Filletti appeared for the Lands Authority and Marouska Debono for Waterfront Hotel Ltd.

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