Residence to dairy producer permitted

Livestock farmer sought planning permission for the “construction of a residence with basement and the construction of an underground water reservoir for agriculture purposes”

In this case, applicant, who was a livestock farmer, sought planning permission for the “construction of a residence with basement and the construction of an underground water reservoir for agriculture purposes”. Applicant’s site was located outside the development zone of Dingli. Despite being a livestock breeder, applicant was refused permission for the following reasons:

1 The proposed farmer’s residence ran counter to criteria (10) and (11) of policy 2.2A of the Rural Policy and Design Guidance (2014) since a basement garage extending beyond the footprint of the dwelling, thus resulting in a total building floorspace of over 200sq.m was included;

2 An ‘excessive ramp’ from the road to the basement was created, resulting in ‘unnecessary land take up’;

3 The proposal was in breach of Rural Objectives 1.7 and 4.3c of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development, which policies aim to control the location, design and cumulative effect of development in rural areas;

4 The boundary walls ran counter to policy 2.9 of the Rural Policy and Design Guidance (RPDG) 2014 and Legal Notice 160 of 1997, in that the permitted height of 1.2 metres was being exceeded;

5 The basement was not adequately ventilated and illuminated for its intended use.

The decision was appealed before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal. In his submission, applicant (now appellant) submitted the following grounds of appeal:

1 Being a dairy (cow) livestock farmer, he was clearly eligible for a ‘new farm dwelling’;

2 The farm was operating and ‘able to raise 212 cows (female bovines) over two years, 14 bulls/heifers and 93 calves over six months old, hence 212 cows are all potentially possible milking cows’. Consequently, the number of cows exceeded the minimum eligibility threshold stipulated in the policy (namely 40 cows);

3 Applicant was a committed livestock farmer ‘in need of a dwelling within the vicinity of the farm to be able to manage and supervise the requirements of his particular large-scale animal husbandry operations’;

4 The farm was to be located on land of no ecological and/or archaeological value;

5 Contrary to what the Authority had stated, the basement and the overlying residence had the same footprint.

In reply, the Authority reiterated that the basement went beyond the ground floor footprint, ‘giving rise to more land disturbance and formalisation of site’. The Tribunal was therefore requested to confirm the Authority’s decision.

In its assessment, the Tribunal held that applicant was indeed a genuine dairy producer. The Tribunal assessed that the basement and the overlying ground floor shared more or less the same footprint, except for a small area at basement level which served as a ventilation duct. The Tribunal also found that the ramp was necessary to facilitate access. Against this background, the Tribunal ordered the Authority to issue the permit on condition that the boundary walls are reduced in height as  suggested by the Authority. Additionally, the Tribunal requested applicant to reduce the extent of hard landscaping to a bare minimum.

 

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

[email protected]

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