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Appeal on illegal extension to ODZ petrol station to be decided today

J. Gaff Service Station in Qormi. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

J. Gaff Service Station in Qormi. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

An appeal to regularise an illegal extension to a petrol station in Qormi whose owner went beyond the permit granted will be decided by the planning authority’s appeals board today.

An original application to regularise the illegal work was turned down by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority board in January this year but applicant Johann Gaffarena appealed.

The illegal works at J. Gaff Service Station in Luqa Road, Qormi, included the construction of a first floor, over and above the height permitted for the petrol station, an increase in the building footprint, the construction of structures near the relocated car wash, an underlying basement and the reduction in size of the underground water reservoir. Mepa estimates there is about 80 per cent more construction than permitted.

In a statement issued when the application to sanction was turned down, the authority had said it had been refused because the illegalities on site led to the further intensification of urbanisation in an outside development zone (ODZ). It said the decision continued to highlight the board’s message that ODZ areas would be protected from any illegal or proposed development that fell short of its policies.

In 2008, the authority had issued an enforcement notice on the site and sealed off access to the entrance given that the applicant had gone beyond the approved planning permission attained in 2006 for the construction of a petrol station. However, J. Gaff Service Station still opened for business in summer 2009 and was again closed down by the authority in September 2009.

An application was then filed to sanction the existing works, with the applicant proposing the removal of two stairwells linking the first floor to the ground floor. However, Mepa still refused to sanction the illegal building, saying that, while it had no objection to most of the alterations, the additional floor, the reduction in water reservoirs and the replacement of rubble walls could not be accepted. It had rejected the application by eight votes to four.

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