A Gudja farmhouse that was illegally converted into a restaurant has neighbours at their wit’s end as it continues to operate despite having been slapped with an enforcement notice by the planning authority last year.
“I’m often being kept up at night by this ‘restaurant’ and its boisterous clientele... shall I just turn my house into a każin or an illegal nightclub? Why is this being allowed? I’m fed up,” lamented one neighbouring resident who preferred not to be named.
The restaurant, Scicluna Farmhouse located on the outskirts of Gudja, poses as a family residence but concealed behind a makeshift reed fence lies a large catering establishment with tables, outdoor ovens, restrooms and even a dining hall with flat screen televisions and air conditioning units.
The restaurant’s owners were issued with an enforcement notice calling for all catering activities to be halted and for the site to be returned to its original state back in 2012.
However, the site remains open despite the enforcement notice and a string of complaints from residents who contacted Times of Malta after their grievances fell on deaf ears.
Why is this being allowed? I’m fed up!
A planning authority spokesman said the site had not yet been shut down because it formed part of the authority’s long list of pending notices.
“Unfortunately, these things do take time,” the spokesman said.
When contacted, the farmhouse owner Anton Scicluna initially claimed he had all the necessary permits in hand. However, when the subject of the enforcement notice was raised he insisted the property had not been used as a restaurant for “a very long time”.
“We only use this place for our family get-togethers, we don’t serve people here; not anymore,” Mr Scicluna said.
However, comments have been made by those who frequented the ‘restaurant’ in recent days, praising the food.
Times of Malta also visited the premises yesterday morning and was immediately offered a reservation by the staff.
Asked about these apparent contradictions, Mr Scicluna kept insisting that the establishment no longer operated as a restaurant.
The farmhouse originally started off offering large group bookings for celebratory meals of suckling pig, horse meat and rabbit but those who have visited the site in recent weeks said the restaurant now catered for small tables and even passing trade.
Residents are claiming the place is operating as a restaurant six nights a week with lunch on Sundays, and the noise levels were keeping them awake.
“They’ve hosted people in there for at least two years now, sometimes they’re fully booked and the summer is the worst – they play music and there’s a lot of shouting. It’s not fair on those of us who live here,” the resident said.
Another resident whose property overlooks the expanding restaurant added: “First it was a couple of tables then it grew and grew, now he built that huge aviary which he fills with pigeons. What next?”
“It’s popular there. It hasn’t affected me all that much except when I have to wash the vomit and urine off the side of my house; that’s what you get when you live near this sort of thing I suppose,” another resident said, shrugging her shoulders as she said there was little she could do to change things.
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