How commercial interests consumed your public space in Gżira, Sliema

The Planning Authority approved 70% of encroachment applications in Triq ix-Xatt


On a 1.3km stretch of road marking the border between Gżira and Sliema known as Triq ix-Xatt, the Planning Authority (PA) has processed at least 50 applications linked with outdoor catering areas in the last decade.

Out of those 50 applications, the PA approved 35 (70%) of them, refusing just seven (14%), an analysis by The Shift has confirmed.

Five of those 50 applications remain pending, and three others remain unresolved – a stroll along the coastline clearly shows that the PA’s lax consideration for public space has led to visibly encumbered, difficult-to-navigate pathways.

Overall, the applications show a clear uptake of parking bays and public pavement for the placement of enclosures, canopies, tables and chairs, and other related infrastructure. Nineteen of the 50 applications listed in this article sought to sanction illegal works.

While the analysis is not comprehensive and does not consider every street in Sliema, it is a representative example of how the problem has aggravated over the years.

Based on The Shift’s analysis, one name in particular stands out due to the sheer volume of applications filed – the Head of Malta Developers’ Association, Michael Stivala.

In total, 11 of those applications in Triq ix-Xatt list Stivala as the applicant, all of which were approved. The approved applications are all linked to outdoor areas catering for Stivala Group’s various business interests in the area, including the Bayview Hotel and the Sliema Hotel, among others.

Black Gold Saloon, pictured below, is owned by a different Michael Stivala.

Black Gold Saloon’s outdoor area.


Bayview Hotel’s outdoor area.


Sliema Hotel’s outdoor area.

McDonald’s, Burger King, Oasis and The Brew are another four catering establishments that breached planning laws by taking up public space for their outdoor areas, only to then obtain approval to sanction.

McDonald’s and Oasis Cafe’s outdoor areas.


Burger King’s outdoor area.


The Brew’s outdoor area.

Hotel Kennedy Nova, which lists one of its directors, Rachel Sammut Alessi, as the applicant in relevant development applications, has applied for two encroachment permits since 2017.

The hotel managed to secure approval to place tables and chairs in front of the entrance in 2017 – the following year, Sammut Alessi submitted another application on the hotel’s behalf to formalise the outdoor area with a canopy and a demountable wooden platform.

Hotel Kennedy Nova’s outdoor area.

The application was approved, and then appealed by Sliema’s local council. The appeals tribunal sent the application back to the PA for reassessment last year. Two other appeals for separate establishments filed by the local council in 2018 were refused by the appeals board.

Much like what happened in Valletta over the last decade, the PA’s enforcement against illegal development in Sliema, coupled with extremely weak planning laws, leaves much to be desired.

In Triq ix-Xatt’s history since 2012, just 11 enforcement notices were found on the PA’s Map Server. The PA’s enforcement was so weak that, in some cases, the establishment owners applied to get in line with the law before the law enforcement authorities even noticed an issue.

Update: the article previously referred to Black Gold Saloon being owned by MDA president Michael Stivala – Black Gold Saloon is owned by a different person with the same name.


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Francis Said
Francis Said
1 year ago

Anarchy rules Malta. Money and greed are the new norms.
The ordinary citizen, is now the peasant.
In short the quality of life of the majority has gone down and more is expected, as it seems that Government has lost all sense of the rule of law.

Astrid Vella
1 year ago

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar has just succeeded in having the Trattoria del Mare kiosk shrink back to its legally-permitted size, after it encroached some 200% more. The PA chairman at the sanctioning committee stated “Tables and chairs are not allowed for kiosks, I can’t imagine how you got that permit”

To make matters worse, we now have an extra encumbrance in the form of a ghastly monument in the shape of an (a**) hole next to the Gzira lido, to the glory of Michael Stivala, Maurice Mizzi and Gzira Mayor Conrad Borg Manche who had in the past disowned the project.

1 year ago
Reply to  Astrid Vella

For someone at the helm of an NGO which should work towards the common good (and which has contributed to it, granted – like re Trattoria del Mare, which unfortunately seems to be regrowing :/ ), your remarks are petty and childish, Astrid. Does that mean that some of your observations are wrong? No. Does that mean some people must not be called out? Neither. Nor does it exculpate the finger pointer.
But for God’s sake’s – FOR. GOD’S. SAKE’S. … Let’s stop pointing fingers, grow up, and work towards a common goal. And let’s do it yesterday! Sheesh! 🙄

Last edited 1 year ago by OMG!!
Charles Falzon
Charles Falzon
11 months ago
Reply to  OMG!!

There’s only one rude-to-mention word to describe your comment, OMG!
By the way, be man or women enough to put your name to an idiotic, unfair comment towards a woman and an NGO at the forefront of the hard work against the over-“development” and over-uglification of our MALTA.

1 year ago

Is this really about the use of public property?

Or maybe our government has long since sold it to the business owners as elsewhere on Malta?
Or maybe there are long-term leases here?

We remember the bloody passports of ROBBER Abela or the shabby hospital deal:
With these political looters (PL) you have to expect everything but something good for the public. Unfortunately

Paul Sullivan
Paul Sullivan
1 year ago

B’daqshekk, I recall a Minister saying on TVM way back when there were just about a dozen set up, ‘inkunu bhal ta barra’ he had said when everyone was complaining about them.
Spaghetti bolognese topped with diesel fumes anyone?

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul Sullivan
Henry Pace
1 year ago

It looks more of a jungle.

John Hughes
John Hughes
1 year ago

One of the main problems in Malta is parking, as we all know, and a considerable amount of parking spaces have been taken by some establishments and this is not the end to this nonsense

1 year ago

It’s like walking through a favela. I can’t understand how people enjoy that environment.

Charles Falzon
Charles Falzon
11 months ago
Reply to  Joachim

Il-qamel, qamel jattira, Joachim.

1 year ago
Anyone care to explain why the pioneering Cafe Giorgio was not mentioned? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The Gahan Academy
The Gahan Academy
1 year ago
Reply to  minnfejn

Shhhhhh!!! Don’t ask embarrassing questions!

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