The Planning Authority yesterday gave its blessing to another bar in Sliema, prompting residents to complain that the once residential area was turning into a barhopping venue.

The applicant had been granted a permit in December 2018 to demolish a guesthouse in Tigné Street and instead build a block of seven one-bedroomed apartments over two offices on the ground floor and a store in the basement. 

However, the developer applied again last July to turn one of the two offices into a bar and cafeteria, while retaining the other office and the seven overlying bedrooms. Yesterday’s application saw the approval of a bar which, according to a previous permit, was originally an office. 

The case officer recommended its refusal, but the Planning Commission overturned it after the applicant addressed the concerns.

A bar or a cafeteria is not allowed in residential areas

They also complained about the planning process itself, whereby the Planning Authority employs case officers to study planning applications and to recommend a decision, only to overturn this decision and grant the permit instead. 

Residents complained that their concerns were not being addressed.

“A bar or a cafeteria is not allowed in residential areas. I can bet you anything that from this application for 17 square metres, the next one will increase the size to 75 square metres because there’s a precedent here. 

“And after that there will be an application to place tables and chairs outdoors and the pavement will be gone too. After that there will be other applications from people who own garages close by and the story goes on and on,” one angry resident said. 

The residents said yesterday’s application reminded them of another application in Manuel Dimech Street which got a permit for a bar despite over 200 objections, including one by the local council. 

The latter application is presently being appealed by residents of the surrounding area who have had enough of the noisy bar in a residential area.

There is another appeal over yet another bar further up the same street where a permit was granted to a bar without a police licence.   

“The message that’s being sent is that applications for bars may be allowed in all residential areas if a building had, at some point, a police licence irrespective of whether the licence was invalid, expired or cancelled decade ago. 

“No resident can ever be able to buy a property in a residential area with any peace of mind that a bar will not open next door,” one resident said. 

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