Boundary wall on rear of villa approved

The Tribunal observed that the design was visually acceptable in the given context and thus ordered the Authority to issue the permit

A request for the raising of a rubble wall bordering the garden of a villa was turned down by the Environment and Planning Commission. In support of its decision, the Commission held that “the proposed height of the boundary wall would adversely affect the scenic value of the area and is hence in conflict with Structure Plan Policy RCO 4.’’ The villa is located in Madliena and partly lies outside the development zone.

As a reaction, the applicant filed an appeal against the decision before the Environment and Planning Tribunal. In his detailed submissions, the applicant contended that “the intended boundary wall was to afford wind protection from the prevailing North-West wind to the olive grove which forms part of the villa”. The appellant went on to explain that he had bought the land in question from the Land Department at commercial rates for a specific use. Moreover, the proposed wall was tantamount to an extension of an existing boundary wall bordering the adjacent plot. Concluding, the appellant pointed out that the wall would be raised by merely 0.6 metres (namely, from 1.2 metres to 1.8 metres) and recalled that his intentions were “to promote a very positive use of this garden by planting indigenous trees and shrubs, which, due to the very exposed site, will not be possible, should this application be refused.”

On his part, the case officer reiterated that rubble walls outside the development zone should not exceed 1.2 metres, whereas in this case the proposed height was equivalent to 1.8 metres.  The officer further remarked that “the proposal did not complement the rural environment of the area”. In his conclusion, the officer warned that should the authority accept such a request, “every owner of a piece of land which is planted with trees” would lodge a similar request. As a consequence, the officer envisaged that “the overall character of our countryside would change drastically.”

In its assessment, the Tribunal however noted that the wall in question was necessary to afford adequate wind protection. Moreover, the Tribunal observed that the design was visually acceptable in the given context. Against this background, the Tribunal ordered the Authority to issue the permit.