An application to upgrade a disused kerbside fuel station on the Sliema front is slated for approval despite strong objections from residents and concerns about its proximity to two hotels, bars and restaurants.
The case officer recommended its approval following no objections received from the authorities, including the Environment and Resources Authority, Transport Malta, the Regulator for Energy and Water Services, REWS, and Enemalta, among others.
Submitted by Michael Attard Services Ltd, the application seeks to upgrade an existing, disused fuel station including all ancillary facilities, and the upgrading and refurbishment of the underground fuel tanks of the existing filling station, having a total capacity of 60,000 litres of fuel.
The applicant said the upgrading works are intended to improve the quality and standard of the existing installation and the relocation of two fuel dispensers each having four nozzles suppling three different fuels within the footprint of the existing fuel station.
The application is also proposing the replacement of vent stacks, the relocation of the payment terminal and the installation of bollards, as well as the removal of five car parking spaces, including one reserved for blue badge holders.
The 76-square-metre site on Tower Road, Sliema, lies between the Plaza Hotel and the Carlton Hotel, metres away from bars and restaurants.
Objectors argued that the fuel station, which has long been out of use, is extremely close to established residential, tourism and entertainment uses, making it incompatible with its surroundings. Moreover, the cars exiting from the fuel station will cause an obstacle to traffic entering the sharp bend of Old College Street.
Residents complained about the “unjustified” loss of valuable parking in the busy area.
The existing parking is already far from being sufficient to cope with the ever-increasing demands for parking in the densely populated locality.
They argued that the fuel station created issues of amenity, safety and transport give its urban context and should be deemed as inappropriate under the Planning Authority’s policy guidelines on fuel stations approved in April 2020, which sought to relocate fuel station in residential areas to other sites.
Objectors raised safety concerns given that the proposed station would lie just two metres from buildings and just 68 metres from another fuel station. They said it will further increase the traffic in the area, increasing pollution and fumes.
They also questioned how the fuel station was still licensed since it had been out of operation for almost 10 years.
Among the objectors was Nationalist MP and former St Julian’s mayor Albert Buttigieg who argued that the proposed fuel station will create a greater traffic inconvenience than when it was still operational.
Now that traffic has increased, the inconvenience will be greater, he argued. Buttigieg also pointed out that there were issues of public health and safety that should be considered.
The Sliema local council did not object to the proposal and it did not submit its position on the matter.
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