Planning Authority received 9 reports on illegalities each day in 2020

Illegalities were confirmed in 55% of cases, with owners in 818 incidents then presenting a planning application to have their illegality 'regularised'

The Planning Authority received an average of nine reports of illegal developments in Malta, every single day during the pandemic year.

The PA’s annual report shows it received 3,313 reports of illegal development in 2020, 139 more than in the previous year.

Illegal development was confirmed in 55% of the reported cases following investigations.

In 818 cases, the property owners submitted an application to regularise the illegal works. But in 45% of the cases, the contraveners complied or removed the illegalities, prior to further action being taken.

Only 145 enforcement notices, resulting from complaints received, were issued. In total 169 enforcement notices were issued, a decrease of circa 26% from the previous year.

Almost 60% of the enforcement notices issued were subject to daily fines, which act as a deterrent against contraveners, encouraging them to rectify their position within the shortest possible timeframe.

During 2020, the PA’s planning directorate closed a total of 749 stop-and-enforcement notices. 289 were closed after a permission to sanction the illegal development was issued. A further 239 were closed since the illegal development was removed by the contravener, whilst only 74 notices were closed as a result of the Planning Authority removing illegal developments through direct action. On the other hand, 147 cases were closed since the subject matter of the notices was no longer included in the legislative and policy framework.

At the end of 2020, the pending caseload of stop-and-enforcement notices issued since 1993 stood at almost 5,600. This represented a decrease of over 8% from the pending caseload at the end of 2019. Of these, only 445 are subject to daily fines.

The PA’s annual report describes the decrease in direct action as “the greatest impact of the pandemic” on the operations of its enforcement directorate.

One reason for this is that organising a direct action requires bringing together various entities, including members of the Police force who were often deployed to deal with health emergencies.

Instead the PA’s Direct Action Team focused on a stock-taking of pending enforcement notices, some of which dating back from 1993. According to the report the strategy adopted by the Directorate, even at the late stage of direct action, is to persuade contraveners to remove the illegal development, rather than having to bear the costs and expenses incurred by the Authority to remove the illegal development through direct action.

3,313 reports of illegalities filed in 2020

55% confirmed ‘illegal’

818 regularisation requests

45% compliance to remove illegalities

169 enforcement notices issued in 2020

  • 749    stop-and-enforcement notices concluded by PA’s directorate:
  • 289 closed after permission to sanction illegal development
  • 239 closed since illegal development was removed
  • 74 closed as a result of direct action from PA
  • 147 closed since illegality no longer included in legislation or policy

5,600 pending caseload for stop-and-enforcement notices since 1993

445 stop-and-enforcement cases still pending and subject to daily fines