Residents fight controversial Vittoriosa kiosk

The site of the proposed kiosk. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

The site of the proposed kiosk. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

Vittoriosa residents have taken the fight against a controversial kiosk to court as they seek to block a permit that they say will ruin historic views.

The residents have gone before the Court of Appeal after the planning review tribunal overturned a decision by the Planning Authority to refuse the proposal.

The tribunal's decision means the development can now go ahead unless the residents' legal challenge is successful. Deve­lopers are seeking to build a kiosk selling food and drinks, as well as placing tables and chairs in an open space on the harbour fortifications known as the Belvedere, which is within the Urban Conservation Area and scheduled as an Area of High Landscape Value.

An outline permit for the kiosk was granted in 2008, but a subsequent full deve­lopment permit was refused in 2015 amid heavy opposition from residents, who argued the proposal would obstruct important views and ruin the public's enjoyment of the last remaining open space in Vittoriosa.

They also argued that the kiosk would have a negative impact due to the noise and smells it would generate, as well as the effect on parking.

The local council did not originally object to the application but later reversed its position, arguing that the developers had "misled" the council by falsely claiming to have residents' enthusiastic support for their proposal, when in fact the residents had never been consulted.

The PA refused the application on the basis of policies that aim to safeguard the neighbours' amenity, as well as the Kiosks Policy, as the area of the approved kiosk was larger than that presented in the outline permit.

However, the developers appealed the judgment, arguing that the application had already been assessed against the relevant policies when the outline permit was granted and that the policies could not be interpreted differently for the full permit.

The PA responded that the kiosk's design and external appearance were kept as reserved matters in the outline permit and therefore had to be reassessed.

The Vittoriosa residents reiterated their objections and also claimed that the development notice for the outline application had not been affixed to the site as required by law, and that many were therefore not aware of the plans in time to object.

The tribunal upheld the developers' arguments and overturned the refusal, although it insisted that no cooking could take place on site, to minimise the negative impact on neighbouring residents.

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