Once applicants accept an order

The tribunal pointed out that the applicant never objected to removing the illegal canopy

An applicant obtained a planning permission entitled “to sanction additions to residential unit”. The residence is located outside the Gudja development zone. The Commission accepted the proposal after the applicant’s architect submitted fresh drawings limiting the enclosed floorspace to 200 square metres as required by current rural policy. 

This meant that the applicant had consented to removing an illegal canopy situated in his garden (which canopy, he requested to sanction by way of the same application). Moreover, the permit was issued subject to a specific condition stating that the applicant should remove the canopy within six months. Given that the application was a request to obtain permission for an already existing development, the Authority imposed a fine to the value of €2,076.00.

Nevertheless, the applicant chose to submit an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal. The applicant contended that no reference was ever made to the inflicted fine prior to the final decision being taken. More so, the appellant alleged that the fine was wrongly calculated. Fines are calculated as a percentage of the Development Permit Fee (DPF), which, in turn, is based on the development area shown in the drawings.

In this case, the initial areas shown in the drawings included, of course, the canopy which the applicant was eventually ordered to remove by the Commission. The applicant thus contended that the fine should be reduced with a view to reflect the resultant area without the parts ‘to be removed’. At the same time, the applicant maintained that the canopy does not form part of the allowable 200 square metre residential floor area and should therefore remain in place

In reply, the Authority said that the fine was correctly calculated in accordance with Legal Notice 277 of 2012. No allowance is made to reduce the fine as contended by the applicant. On the other hand, the 200 square metre limit should include all roofed areas within the site boundary which the applicant intends ‘to sanction’.

In its assessment, the Tribunal pointed out that the applicant never objected to removing the illegal canopy, so much so that his architect had submitted amended drawings to that effect. Moreover, the Tribunal agreed with the Authority that the fine should reflect the original DPF, regardless of whether such illegalities are eventually sanctioned in their entirety. Against this background, the appeal was rejected.

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Dr Musumeci is a warranted perit and holds a Degree in Law