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Tribunal may only entertain direct ad hoc requests for revocation

Requests for permit revocation should be lodged independently from an appeal against the issue of a permit

Robert Musumeci
26 February 2016, 11:42am
The Environment and Planning Commission renewed a permit for the construction of additional floors on an existing building. Subsequently, a number of objectors lodged an appeal against the permit before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting also that the permit should be revoked.

Appellants alleged inter alia that the boundaries indicated in the approved site plan do not correspond to the actual property extents. To support their argument, the appellants produced a superimposed plan showing the backyard of the property situated beyond the site plan boundaries.

Consequently, the appellants contended that “the approval of the application was vitiated by the submission of an incomplete site plan”. Moreover, it was alleged that the applicant erroneously indicated that he is the sole owner of the backyard when in fact the backyard belongs to third parties.

In the circumstances, the appellants contended that such matters “should not be treated as ones of a civil nature” but rather as “a breach as defined in Article 77(2) of the Environment and Development Planning Act”, which section of the law provides for the revocation of a permit whenever the application is vitiated by the submission of incorrect information which has a bearing on the eventual decision outcome.

On his part, the applicant maintained that the appellants’ assertions with regard to the site plan were false since his architect had eventually submitted a revised site plan showing the entire property precincts. With regard to the ownership allegations, the applicant pointed out that “the determination of the extents of a particular property and the determination of any proprietary rights are matters which fall beyond the competence ratione materiae of the Tribunal”.

In its preliminary observations, the Tribunal asserted that the appellant was concurrently appealing against a planning decision and requesting the revocation of a permit. The Tribunal observed that a request for permit revocation may be filed directly with it, however not concurrently with an appeal from a planning decision.

Finally, the Tribunal held that it had no competence to decide ownership disputes.

Furthermore, it was noted that the permit was issued subject to a condition stating that “if the declaration of ownership, as contained in the application form, is determined as incorrect by a Court of Law, then the said Court of Law can declare this development permission as null and void.” Against this background, the Tribunal found against the objectors.

Dr Robert Musumeci is a warranted advocate and a perit. He also holds a Masters Degree in ...
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