2006 Local Plan prevails

“View obstructions as a result of new developments are not deemed as a material consideration”

A development planning application contemplating the construction of three additional levels over an existing two storey terraced house was granted permission after the Planning Commission held that the drawings were in line with Local Plan policies.

The application was given the green light despite the neighbours having voiced concern over the fact that the current predominant height is two floors. The building is located within a designated residential area in Swieqi.

Following permit approval, the objectors filed an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the permit should be revoked.

In their appeal submissions, the objectors argued that the proposed development was not considered as being ‘adequate with regards to both of the apartment block’s immediate context and streetscape’, adding that ‘the proposed additional floors would create large blank party walls and stand out firmly in an unattractive manner, such that the appearance of the proposed block would be out of scale and significantly taller than the buildings in the vicinity’. 

For this reason, the objectors argued that the general streetscape was ‘definitely going to suffer’.  In addition, traffic problems were envisaged since the proposal failed to include adequate on site parking spaces. Consequently, the objectors argued, the proposal was in breach of current standards which require that ’on site parking should be enforced in residential areas’. 

In their concluding remarks, the objectors stressed that the value of their property would be reduced since they could no longer enjoy the views.   

In reply, the case officer representing the Planning Authority stated that the proposal was ‘assessed against the applicable North Harbours Local Plan policies for Swieqi and related policies in the Development Control Design Policy Guidance and Standards 2015’. 

The officer explained that the approved heights conformed with the permitted height limitations.  Whilst acknowledging that the additional floors would result in large blank walls on both sides of the property, it was held that ‘this may be temporary since the adjacent site can be similarly developed in the future’. 
On the other hand, applicants may, as a rule, choose to pay a financial compensation to ‘make up’ for the lack of on site parking. In his conclusive remarks, it was underlined that view obstructions as a result of new developments are not deemed as a material consideration.

In its assessment, the Tribunal immediately observed that the proposed heights were in line with the policy limitations. Moreover, the parties were reminded that ‘any future commitments provided for by the Local Plans, even if the commitments are as yet unbuilt’ are tantamount to a ‘commitment’ in terms of planning law. Using this logic, appellant was wrong to argue that the area was not yet committed and should thus remain unbuilt. Against this background, the Tribunal rejected the appeal.


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

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