Commercial Property Classes

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The business of real estate is divided into residential sales, letting and commercial with combinations and overlapping in some instances of these divisions. It must be noted that commercial properties, without exception, all fall under a complicated classification system and this will have an impact on the type of property you can ultimately acquire that is best suited to your business activities.

Classes and Permits

There are many commercial classes or categories – each having a unique permit with distinct operating parameters to which the proprietor of such a property have to adhere to. This is governed by law and the specific rules and regulations for each property class need to be strictly observed in order to lawfully maintain one’s business license for operating from those premises.

Below you will find the breakdown of all the Commercial Classes as set out by MEPA, the Malta Environment & Planning Authority. Rules regarding aspects such as traffic congestion, health and safety, noise and air pollution are but a few of the determining factors that may apply to the property you wish to purchase or rent. We advise you to engage the services of a professional, registered architect who will investigate, verify and confirm that all the permits needed have already been approved or additionally advise you on which permits you still need to obtain.

At Frank Salt Commercial we have a vast database of different commercial properties available for purchase or rent. Additionally we can also assist you through the compliance process, ensuring that your property of choice is fully approved for the type of business you want to operate from your chosen premises.

In all, there are 8 categories of properties, all organised by class. Each class contains a short description of that category and make sure you read through any of the amendments at the end of this breakdown, or those contained in the official MEPA documentation should it not appear in this writing.

EXAMPLES OF CATEGORIES

CATEGORY A – RESIDENTIAL USES

  • CLASS 1 – Dwellings

For use as a residence, whether or not as a sole or main residence,  by any of the following:

(a) a single person or by people living together as a family;

(b) not more than six residents living together, including a house hold where care is provided for residents;

(c) lodging of not more than sixteen persons, provided that the operation is licensed by the Malta Tourism Authority and the premises are located within an Urban Conservation Area;

(d) a resident concurrently with his or her occupation or business , provided that it is identified as the ordinary residence of the person undertaking the occupation or business and the activity:

(i) uses  less  than  half  the  residential  floor space  of  the  dwelling capped at 50 sq m provided that the minimum dwelling size is not prejudiced;

(ii) relates to beauty and wellness related services, or professional offices, or medical services, or education, or any other activity which  in  the  opinion  of  the  Authority  is  compatible  with residential use;

(iii) is not a client intensive activity;

(iv) does not generate a disproportionate vehicular traffic or parking which is detrimental to the amenity of the area in which it is conducted;

(v)  can be carried on in any residential area within the Development Zone  without  undue  detriment  to  the  amenity  of  that  area  by reason of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust, grit, light, radiation or incompatible visual impact; and

(vi) is conducted in a residence which does not form part of a block of apartments or any other block of buildings accessible from an external common entrance.

CATEGORY B – SOCIAL USES

  • CLASS 2A – Residential Institutions

Use for either of the following:

(a) residential accommodation and care to people in need of care other than a use within Class 1 (Dwellings);

(b) hospital or nursing home;

(c) medical clinic;

(d) clinic for professionals complementary to medicine.

  • CLASS 2B – Non-Residential Institutions

Use, other than residential use, for any of the following:

(a) display of works of art other  than for sale or for hire;

(b)museum;

(c) public library or public reading room;

(d) public hall or exhibition hall.

  • CLASS 2C – Education

Use for either of the following:

(a) kindergarten, creche, day nursery or day centre;

(b) residential or non residential school, college or training centre.

CATEGORY C – TOURISM AND LEISURE USES

  • CLASS 3A – Guest Houses, Palazzini, Boutique Tourism Accommodations and Hostels

Use for any of the following:

(a) guest house;

(b) palazzino;

(c) boutique tourism accommodation;

(d) hostel, where no significant element of  care is provided, but excluding premises licensed for the sale of alcoholic liquor to persons other than residents.

  • CLASS 3B – Hotels

Use for hotel

  • CLASS 3C – Assembly and Leisure

Use for any of the following:

(a) cinema;

(b) concert hall or theatre;

(c) swimming bath or pool, skating rink, gymnasium, health club, sauna, sports hall, or other indoor or outdoor land-based sports or recreations not involving motorised vehicles or firearms.

  • CLASS 3D – Marine Leisure

Use for any of the following:

(a) mooring boats and/or as a marina;

(b) diving, sailing, or windsurfing school or other marine- based sport or recreation.

CATEGORY D – COMMERCIAL USES

  • CLASS 4A – Financial, Professional and Other Offices

Use for any of the following:

(a) financial services;

(b) professional services (including doctors, lawyers, dentists);

(c) any other offices of a comparable nature.

  • CLASS 4B – Retail

Use for any of the following:

(a) retail outlets;

(b) display for sale of goods excluding motor vehicles.

  • CLASS 4C – Food and Drink Establishments where no cooking is allowed

Use for establishments catering for the preparation and sale of hot or cold food or drink for consumption on the premises where no cooking is allowed.

  • CLASS 4D – Food and Drink Establishments where cooking is allowed

Use for establishments catering for the preparation and sale of hot or cold food or drink for consumption on the premises where cooking is allowed.

CATEGORY E – INDUSTRIAL USES

  • CLASS 5A – Light Industry

Use for any of the following:

(a) research, testing and development of products or processes;

(b) craft business;

(c) any other light industry not falling under Class 5C, provided that, if any such use is carried out in a residential area, in the opinion of the Authority:

(i) it can be carried out without detriment to the amenity of that area by reason of noise, vibrations, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash,dust, grit, or visual impact; and

(ii) it does not generate a disproportionate vehicular traffic or parking which is detrimental to the amen ity of the area in which it is conducted; and

(iii) it  does  not  result  in  a  significant  increase  in  the  number of employees previously engaged in the former use.

  • CLASS 5B – General Industry

Use for the carrying on of an industrial process not contemplated by Class 5A or Class 5C.

  • CLASS 5C – Specialised Industry

Any specialised industrial process for any of the following use:

(a) smelting, calcining, sintering or reducing ores, minerals, concentrates or mattes;

(b) converting,  refining,  reheating,  annealing,  hardening,  melting, carburising, forging, or casting metals or alloys other than pressure die-casting;

(c) recovering of metal from scrap, drosses or ashes;

(d) galvanising;

(e) pickling or treating metal in acid;

(f) chromium plating;

(g) burning lime or dolomite;

(h) producing zinc oxide, cement or alumina;

(i) foaming, crushing, screening or heating mineral or slag;

(j) processing pulverised fuel ash by heat;

(k) producing carbonate of lime or hydrated lime;

(l) producing inorganic pigments by calcining, roasting or grinding,except where the above processes are ancillary to the getting, dressing or treatment of minerals and under taking in or adjacent to a quarry or mine;

(m) distilling, refining, or blending oils (other than petroleum or petroleum products);

(n) producing  or  using  cellulose  or  using  other  pressure  sprayed  metal finishes  (other  than  in  vehicle repair  workshops  in  connection with minor repairs, or application of plastic powder by the use of fluidised bed and electrostatic  spray techniques);

(o) boiling linseed oil or running gum;

(p) processes involving the use of hot pitch or bitumen in the manufacture of roofing felt at temperatures not exceeding 220ºC or the manufacture of coated roadstone;

(q) stoving enameled ware;

(r) producing aliphatic esters of the lower fatty acids, butyric acid, caramel, hexamine,  iodoform,  naphthols,  resin  products  (excluding  plastic moulding or extrusion operations and producing plastic sheets, rods, tubes,  filaments,  fibres  or  optical  components  produced  by  casting, calenering,  moulding,  shaping  or  extrusion),  salicylic  acid  or sulphonated organic compounds;

(s) producing rubber from scrap;

(t) chemical processes in which chlorophenols or chlorocresols are used as intermediates;

(u) manufacturing acetylene from calcium carbide;

(v) manufacturing, recovering, or using pyridine or picolines, any methyl or ethyl amine, or acrylates;

(w) the carrying on of an industrial process which uses animal remains as the primary input or as part of the process of manufacture.

CATEGORY F – STORAGE AND BOATHOUSE USES

  • CLASS 6A – Storage and Distribution

Use for storage (other than the storage, on land or on water, of boats) or as a distribution centre.

  • CLASS 6B – Boatyards

Use for any of the following:

(a) storing boats (other than in a marina);

(b) boat building;

(c) boat repair and servicing.

CATEGORY G – AGRICULTURE USES

  • CLASS 7 – Agriculture

The carrying on of agriculture which involves the intensive raising of crops or animals.

CATEGORY H – AQUACULTURE USES

  • CLASS 8 – Aquaculture

Use for the hatching or fattening of fish.

 

NOTES ON CHANGE OF USE:


Changing from one class to another in the same category will require you to apply for a development permit, but there are exceptions that do not need an application for a development permit – here, only a notification and reply mechanism is used:  see (2)(i) below. If you still need more information, please do not hesitate to speak to one of our Commercial Property Specialists.

Below is an excert from MEPA’s on-line documentation referring to “Change of Use” Section:

Change of use and the undertaking of additional activities specified in Class 1(c) and 1(d) not requiring development permission:

 

  1. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Order, and subject to sub-article (2), where a building, including land occupied with the building and used for the same purposes, or land is used for a purpose in any class specified in the Schedule of this Order, the use of that building or land for any other purpose in the same class shall not be development, and a development permission is not required, except as provided in this Order.

 

(2) In the case when there is a change of use from either:

(i) Class 3B to Class 3A or
Class 4B to Class 4A or
Class 4C to Class 4A or
Class 4C to Class 4B or
Class 4D to Class 4A or
Class 4D to Class 4B or
Class 4D to Class 4C or
Class 5B to Class 5A or
Class 5C to Class 5A or
Class 5C to Class 5B, or

 

(ii) when activities  identified  under  Class  1(c)  or Class 1(d) are undertaken in addition to those activities  identified  under  Class  1(a)  and/or Class 1(b), this shall be considered as permitted development, subject to a development notification prior to the change of use as specified in (the following) sub-articles.

 

*For more comprehensive information on the above and full documentation, in detail, of all classes please visit the MEPA website or view the official document Click Here.

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