Tribunal says renewal application not required

‘Valid for a period of one year from the date of publication’ should be construed as development to be completed within one year

The applicant submitted an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that, in previous years, he owned a kiosk close to the Aquarium project
The applicant submitted an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that, in previous years, he owned a kiosk close to the Aquarium project

An application to renew a planning permit for ‘the installation of a kiosk and placing of tables and chairs’ was turned down by the Environment and Planning Commission after it found that ‘the proposed renewal was submitted once the validity of the permit had already expired’. The kiosk in question is located in Triq il-Qawra, San Pawl il-Bahar. But even so, the Commission opined that the applicant’s proposal could not be considered since a number of illegalities were detected on site and the applicant made no attempt to either sanction or remove them.

Following the Commission’s decision, the applicant submitted an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that, in previous years, he owned a kiosk close to the Aquarium project. The applicant explained that the Malta Tourism Authority had ordered the kiosk’s relocation, following which he was granted planning permission to construct a kiosk in another location. In the meantime, the kiosk was installed but the relative permission was allegedly expired since a year had passed since it was published. It was for this reason that the applicant went on to renew the said permit. Concluding, the applicant contended that the Authority should not have a problem in renewing his permit since the relative policies governing the area remained unchanged.

In reply, the Authority gave notice of a preliminary plea, namely that the Authority could not hear and decide on the merits of the appeal since there was evidence of an illegal cordoned area adjacent to the kiosk reserved for the placing of tables and chairs. Nevertheless, the Authority maintained that the permit subject of the appeal was valid for a year, adding that a renewal application could only have been accepted if submitted within a one year timeframe.

In its assessment, the Tribunal observed that permit ‘to be renewed’ contained a specific condition stating that ‘the development permission was valid for a period of one year from the date of publication of the decision in the press but will cease to be valid if the development is not completed by the end of this validity period.’ According to the Tribunal, the said condition was taken to mean that the kiosk had to be constructed within one year as what had actually happened. In other words, the Authority was wrong to insist that the kiosk had to be removed within one year unless the permission is renewed. In the circumstances, the Tribunal concluded that the applicant utilized his permit within the stipulated timeframes and hence there was no need to renew the permit. Against this background, the Tribunal abstained from taking further cognizance of the case.

Dr Musumeci is a perit and a Doctor of Laws with an interest in development planning law

[email protected]

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