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Lands Authority had issued consent for Chiswick project at Pembroke

The Lands Authority had issued its consent for the development of the new Chiswick House School in an open field owned by the State in Pembroke

james
James Debono
16 August 2017, 8:16am
The Lands Authority’s own website reminds applicants that prior to the submission of a planning application for any proposal on government property, the applicant is obliged to send electronically the full package of drawings and related details to the authority for its clearance
The Lands Authority’s own website reminds applicants that prior to the submission of a planning application for any proposal on government property, the applicant is obliged to send electronically the full package of drawings and related details to the authority for its clearance
The Lands Authority had issued its consent for the development of the new Chiswick House School in an open field owned by the State in Pembroke.

The proposed private school development has irked residents in Pembroke who are demanding that the open area, bordering on the town’s garigue but still included in the development zones, be left free of any building.

The Lands Authority took over the functions of the former government property division.

Indeed, the planning application presented on 5 May by Chiswick director Bernie Mizzi includes a declaration by the applicant that the owner – which in this case is the government – has “granted consent” to the proposal.

According to a circular issued in 2016, all planning applications on public land have to be accompanied by a clearance from the Lands Authority stating that it finds “no objection in principle” to the submission of an application on the site in question for the proposed development.

At this stage the Lands Authority can object to the application and abort it.

The Lands Authority’s own website reminds applicants that prior to the submission of a planning application for any proposal on government property, the applicant is obliged to send electronically the full package of drawings and related details to the authority for its clearance.

Despite the consent issued by the Lands Authority, on Tuesday evening, Environment Minister José Herrera turned up at a protest organised by residents who oppose the development, stating his ministry supported the residents and was against the siting of the school in Pembroke.

Asked by the Times of Malta whether the government can stop the process, a spokesman for Herrera said: “The government cannot simply stop the process, because the applicants have a right to apply and go through the procedures which apply in such circumstances.”

The spokesman said that the independent institutions – the planning, land and environment authorities – would be taking decisions according to established laws and procedures.

School director Bernie Mizzi claimed that it was the authorities who directed Chiswick to the government-owned plot in Pembroke.

The application foresees 36 classes, outdoor sport facilities, and 82 outdoor parking spaces on a 15,000m2 site. The school insists that only 25% of the site would be built over but residents insist that this open space should be preserved.

The development is located within the Development Zone in an area where development is guided by a local plan policy which obliges the PA to prepare a development brief setting the planning parameters for the zone. The policy earmarks the zone for both residential and non-industrial commercial development.

Mizzi is the wife of businessman Alec Mizzi, one of the main shareholders in the Midi consortium whose tenure at Manoel Island was also challenged by residents there in a campaign spearheaded by Gzira’s Labour mayor Conrad Borg Manché. Together with NGO Kamp Emergenza Ambjent, activists demanding access to the blocked fore shore, in the process raising questions over the lease held by MIDI on the island.

james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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