Is-Suq tal-Belt’s permanently-installed canopies are still up, a whole month after the establishment was slapped with an enforcement order.

Arkadia Marketing Ltd, which operates the Suq tal-Belt venue, had appealed the order but the sitting in which the appeal was meant to be decided, on November 28, was cancelled.

When contacted, an employee for the Environment and Planning review Tribunal (EPRT) said sittings were sometimes cancelled and that there was no particular reason behind this one. She said that a date for a replacement sitting would be announced when chosen.

The company has yet to reply to questions sent by Times of Malta on whether the canopies will be removed pending the outcome of the appeal.

Fine payments can run up to €50 a day

A spokesman for the Planning Authority said that the PA would “decide on what action, if any, depending on the outcome of the appeal”. The enforcement order was issued because the canopies were erected without the appropriate planning permission and were obstructing views of the Valletta Old Market, which is a Grade 1 scheduled building.

Fine payments, which can run up to €50 a day, are also due on this case.

The structures, which appeared on October 11, have drawn criticism that cheapen the iconic facade and are a clear case of abuse of loopholes in planning applications.

This is the latest in the ongoing saga of controversies involving the privately operated dining establishment.

The closed outdoor seating was originally planned to be an open plaza and exhibition space, however, the space was enclosed and the area was used as private seating for diners from the outset of Is-Suq tal-Belt’s opening in January of last year.

The Planning Authority later sanctioned the space despite have previously indicated that they would issue a rejection.

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