Works on a controversial fuel station outside the development zone in Burmarrad have started despite two pending appeals seeking to revoke a permit granted in July.
Enquiries by this newspaper established that the developer is acting within the parameters of the law, albeit at his own risk.
This was confirmed by a Planning Authority spokeswoman, who said in such cases, the developer had to restore the site to its original condition at his own expense if the permit was revoked.
Located on agricultural land, opposite the Kiabi complex on Burmarrad Road, the site has a footprint of about 3,000 square metres. Apart from fuel pumps, the project will comprise other facilities like a car wash, a tyre service station and an automated teller machine.
The application immediately attracted objections from NGOs, the St Paul’s Bay local council and even the Environment Resources Authority.
What is the point of filing an appeal if by the time it’s heard the project is well under way?
Apart from the siting itself, they argued the project went against the existing policy, because the new facility would be less than 500 metres from an existing servicing station.
However, the Planning Directorate argued that the two stations were separated by the Erba’ Mwieżeb junction and hence were not accessible through the same carriageway.
The Planning Authority gave its approval on July and asked the developer to make a one-time contribution of €50,000 to compensate for the negative impact of the ODZ development.
Both the St Paul’s Bay council and the Environment Resources Authority challenged the decision, noting that the project’s footprint was in excess of the 3,000 square-metre limit set by the policy applicable to the area.
They appealed and the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal is expected to hear the case on October 19. However, over a few days readers informed this newspaper that excavation works had commenced nonetheless. “What is the point of filing an appeal if, by the time it is heard, the project is well under way?” a worried reader asked.
When this newspaper took up the matter, it was informed by the Planning Authority there was nothing illegal.
A spokeswoman noted that, in line with the Development Planning Act, in this case, the execution of the permit had been suspended until September 1 to enable interested parties to appeal if they wished, as in fact happened. However, she added, neither of the two objectors asked the tribunal to retain the execution of the suspended permit until the appeal was decided.
“Therefore, ongoing works are covered by a development permit which, to date, has not been affected by any tribunal decision,” the spokeswoman continued.
“Obviously, works are being carried out at the developer’s risk, and if the tribunal decided to revoke the permit, the site would need to be returned to its original condition,” she pointed out. The developer would also foot the bill.
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