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Watch: Sliema developers finding 'easy way out' of parking obligations

Council says it wants parking scheme revised

Sliema councillors say the current scheme is not working as intended. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

The Sliema local council wants a revision of the “ridiculous” fees developers currently have to pay when not providing enough parking spaces for their new buildings.

The Commuted Parking Payments Scheme (CPPS) allows for a monetary contribution towards public parking facilities in places where parking provision would be impossible.

In Sliema alone, 172 different building permits have utilised the scheme since 2014, with a total parking shortfall of 525 spaces. The average fee paid was around €2000.

Speaking to journalists after a private meeting with Planning Authority executive chairman Johann Buttigieg, Sliema mayor Anthony Chircop said the payments was providing an “easy way out” for developers to avoid including sufficient parking.

The scheme, he said, did not provide an adequate solution to the parking problems plaguing the town but merely contributing to increasing congestion.
Local councillor Paul Radmilli said an investigation by the environment ombudsman, requested by the council, had similarly concluded that the scheme was in need of revision.

READ: Parking nightmare in Sliema as entertainment venues 'do as they please'

Mr Radmilli said the ombudsman had concluded that the payments did not reflect the market value of a parking space, and that the PA had agreed to carry out an exercise to re-examine this value.

Balluta incident highlights risks of outdoor tables and chairs

During the meeting, the Sliema council also reiterated concerns over the ease with which restaurants were awarded permits for outdoor dining areas, either on the pavement or in place of parking spaces.

The mayor, Mr Chircop, said the risks involved were made clear by an incident yesterday, when a car crashed onto a pavement in Balluta, barely missing restaurant tables and fortunately injuring no one.

He said the council had regularly raised concerns over the safety risks as well as the take-up of public space, either for pedestrians or drivers.

READ: Car crashes, missing pavement diners by mere inches

He added that the proliferation of such dining areas meant an increase in cases where construction machinery had to be parked in the street to carry out works, exacerbating congestion problems.

There were 10 permits issued for outdoor tables and chairs in Sliema between January and August this year, and more than 100 in total, a rate of nearly one new permit every two days.

The office of the environment ombudsman flagged serious issues with the situation in August, noting that concerns – from pedestrian access to the health impact of eating metres away from exhaust fumes – were routinely ignored by the authorities.

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