Application to be reassessed in line with 2004 policies

Architect describes his proposal as ‘an iconic building that serves the image of the wine producing function’

An outline planning application was submitted way back in 2004 ‘to consolidate a chateau and administration quarters’ in Bidnija. The submitted drawings show an existing building forming part of an established vineyard. The architect had highlighted that the existing building was covered by an old permit which was issued in the 1970s. Indeed, the drawings show a proposed two storey complex. 

The outline application was approved, however on condition that ‘the permission is only for the lower ground floor and upper ground floor.” In other words, the upper construction at second floor level was not accepted.

Following the decision, the applicant appealed to the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal. In his appeal submissions, the applicant argued that the Authority failed to observe that ‘the completed two-floor building would not exceed the existing wall along the street and thus not be visible from there.’ In addition, the appellant highlighted that he was ‘hit by the revision of the relative policies or the emanation of new ones’ due to MEPA’s s unjustified delays in processing the application.

It was further pointed out that applications of a similar nature, which were applied for at the same time and later, were given the green light by the Authority. The applicant went further to state that in his case, the application ‘should have a stronger claim for approval in its entirety because it purports to complete a building previously owned by Marsovin Ltd in the 1960s which was however half completed.’  Concluding, the appellant described his proposal as ‘an iconic building that serves both the image of the wine producing function and the tourism attraction function.’

The appeal was nonetheless turned down by the Tribunal, following which the applicant appealed the Tribunal’s decision before the Court of Appeal (Inferior Jurisdiction) ‘on a point of law’. The applicant complained, inter alia, that the Authority’s first decision was delivered in 2004 under a different policy regime while the Tribunal’s decision was eventually given nine years later (in 2013) based on a different policy regime.

Concluding, the court found in favour of the appellant and ordered the Tribunal to ascertain whether the appellant could have been possibly prejudiced once the policies had changed during the application process.  

Subsequently, the Tribunal took note of the court’s decision and concluded that the Planning Authority should reassess the application in line with the policies which were existing at the time when the application was originally submitted – namely, in 2004.

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Robert Musumeci is a warranted architect and civil engineer. He also holds a Masters Degree in Conservation and a Law Degree.