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Gharghur permit to stay

The site was not located within a Strategic Open Gap, nor an area of scientific importance or an area of Agricultural Value 

robert_musumeci
Robert Musumeci
16 December 2016, 9:48am
The Tribunal assessed that the site was located within the designated schemed residential boundaries of Ghargur
The Tribunal assessed that the site was located within the designated schemed residential boundaries of Ghargur
A planning application “to construct four residential units with basement garages” was approved notwithstanding strong objections from a neighbouring resident. Currently, the site consists of a field located in Triq il-Kromb il-Bahar, Gharghur. Following the issue of the permit, the neighbour filed a strongly worded appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the development would result in the ‘take up’ of good quality agricultural soil. 

The appellant pointed out to the Tribunal that the applicant had already submitted an outline application in 2008 and the Planning Directorate had, at the time, made a negative recommendation.

The Planning Authority had nonetheless issued the outline permit in 2011 but the decision was once again overturned by the Tribunal in 2013. The objector explained that he could not understand how the current application was indeed approved on the strength of an outline permit that was subsequently thrown out at the appeals stage. 

The objector pointed out that ‘Gharghur still retains a natural delineation all around the village, separating it entirely from surrounding localities’, adding that ‘the rural open spaces that are lacking in other localities’ should be retained. Even so, the objector warned that the site in question ‘is useful agricultural land that forms part of a series of fields that border the urban conservation area of Gharghur and extend down into the valley on to the Victoria Lines’.

In his conclusive remarks, the objector said that ‘the proposal will destroy the very nature of this conservation and rural area in a zone that is registered as a listed area and site of scientific importance in the Local Plan’, insisting that the works ‘will eliminate further useful agricultural land and goes against all the main structure plan policies protecting agricultural land in particular AHF 1, 5, & 8 and RCO 1, 2 & 4.’

In reply, the Authority stated that the site under appeal lies within the designated development zone. Whilst acknowledging that the development would result in the ‘take up’ of good quality agricultural land, the officer pointed out that the site ‘forms part of land the within the development scheme boundaries.’

Contrary to what the appellant had previously asserted, the site in question was not located within a Strategic Open Gap, nor within an area of scientific importance or an area of Agricultural Value. Consequently, the case officer insisted that policies AHF 1, 5 & 8, RCO 1, 2, 4 & 5 (quoted by the objector) carried little relevance.

In its assessment, the Tribunal observed that the outline application concerned a development which was substantially different from that under appeal. Even so, the Tribunal assessed that the site was located within the designated schemed residential boundaries of Ghargur.

Moreover, the Tribunal considered that the proposed development was limited to four apartments and thus was not deemed intensive. Against this background, the Tribunal concluded that the permit should stay.

Dr Musumeci is a perit and a Doctor of Laws with an interest in development planning law

[email protected]

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