Transition policy finds no applicability

Third party appeal was lodged with the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal after the Planning Authority issued permission for the construction of a multi story complex but neighbouring objectors insisted that the permit should be revoked

A third party appeal was lodged with the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal after the Planning Authority issued planning permission for the construction of a multi storey complex in Zebbug. The approved drawings show 11 garages at basement level overlain by a complex of 10 residential units.

In their appeal, the neighbouring objectors insisted that the permit should be revoked for the following reasons:

The permit was approved in breach of policy document DC 2015 and local plan policies since ‘the approved development abuts onto a green enclave established by the same local plan and no regard was given in the said permit of transition between the different zoning parameters’;

Their property lies within an Urban Conservation Area and the back garden in a designated green enclave;

The approved development features five floors ‘with back windows and terraces’ overlooking their property;

The approved development is receded from their property by a mere 3.5 metres. This amounts to visual intrusion;

The approved plans show a basement depth in excess of 30 metres, which is the maximum building depth allowed by policy;

The enclave ‘constitutes an eco system also comprising the hydrology of the place’;

The traditional nature of the green enclave was set to be destroyed and ‘a canyon effect created onto this green enclave’;

No landscaping was included in the proposal despite being required ‘to provide a much needed transition between the enclave and the proposed development’;

No regard was given to the design of the side and back elevations in terms of architectural quality. More so, ‘the features of constructions and additions’ were not in keeping with the traditional architectural characteristics;

Parcelling of new developments should not be allowed where the site frontage is less than six metres, such as in this case;

The site was of an irregular shape. At most, the development that should be accommodated in this case is one terraced unit;

No green buffer or other transition elements, design or massing were provided; and

The ventilation report submitted by the applicant was based on wrong information.

On his part, the permit holder insisted that a buffer distance of 4.6 metres was being provided.  Moreover, it was highlighted that the development did not encroach onto the ‘enclave’ territory.  The back elevation was not visible from any public roads and was otherwise compliant with sanitary law.  The applicant reminded the Tribunal that the approved plans showed a frontage totalling 7.9 metres, therefore  ‘way above’ the stipulated minimum of four metres. Concluding, the permit holder maintained that his development was adequately receded from neighbouring properties.

In its assessment, the Tribunal made reference to Policy P6 of DC 2015, concluding that transition solutions are required when two sites having different designations have their respective frontage on the same road. According to the Tribunal, this was not the case in the present circumstances. Moreover, the Tribunal observed that the building had a façade frontage of six metres. More so, the building depth, when taken in relation to the official building alignment, measured 30 metres in line with policy. Against this background, the Tribunal held that the permit should stay.


Dr Robert Musumeci is an advocate and architert with an interest in development planning law

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