Watch: Controversial platform removed amid permit confusion

Platforms would open floodgates in dangerous area - mayor

Video: Elisa Lemarchand

A controversial platform placed outside a pub on the busy St George's Street in St Julian's has been removed after it turned out that it did not actually have a permit from the Lands Authority.

Transport Minister Ian Borg said that the platform, which was placed on the road outside Cork's Irish Bar, did however, have a Planning Authority permit which had been issued after the statutory period of public consultation.

"No objections were made and the PA issued the permit," he said.

Just a few hours before, the Times of Malta had sought the comments of the St Julian's mayor who warned that the platform set a dangerous precedent. 

Other outlets along that stretch of road would probably also apply to extend structures across the pavement and there would be no grounds on which to refuse, St Julian's mayor Guido Dalli said.

Drivers and commuters were incredulous when they saw the structure being built outside Cork's Irish Pub in one of the locality's busiest roads and close to a street corner close to Paceville. 

It's bad enough that they've taken our land and occupied our airspace, at least leave the pavements

Mr Dalli fretted about the fact that the extension of the pub’s activities across the pavement would result in blocking the pathway for pedestrians, who might have to wander into the road to get past – at great risk.

"It's bad enough that they've taken our land and occupied our airspace, at least leave the pavements," he said. 

There has been a flurry of applications for outdoor catering areas, with an average of one every two days being issued, since policy guidelines were streamlined in 2016.

Read: Al fresco dining: one new permit every two days this year

The rapid proliferation of tables and chairs on pavements and roads has long been a source of frustration for local councils, pedestrians and drivers, but in this case there is the added headache of the platform being placed in a road notorious for traffic bottlenecks.

At one stage, the government and Transport Malta had actually proposed to remove parking from most of the road from the corner with Gort Street to Spinola Bay, but the council had at the time rejected the idea because it would have meant losing too many parking spaces.

However, the mayor could never have anticipated that the situation would have worsened. He noted that the council – which does not receive any funds from the concession – only learned about the platform when the pub owner applied for a crane to lower it into place, by which time he was already armed with permits from both the Planning Authority and the Lands Department.

It subsequently emerged from the ministry that, in fact, only a PA permit was in hand.

Read: New bar platform in the street is branded "madness" as council objects

The council was already very frustrated as it had made four proposals to the government on ways to ease pressure at the busy junction, and has seen no progress.

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