Final decision on ex Imperial Hotel extension in three months

The Tribunal acceded to objectors’ request to suspend the permit to increase the area of the old people's home until a final decision is delivered within three months

At issue was a planning application for increasing the area of an old people’s home which is currently under construction. The site is the one previously occupied by the  ex Imperial Hotel (in Sliema).

At the outset of the said application, the Authority received a number of objections alleging inter alia that the proposal incorporated a substation which was ‘located adjacent to a third party’ and which would create nuisance by reason of  noise and vibration.

It was further alleged that the substation would cause harm due to ‘emitted electro-magnetic frequencies’.

Notwithstanding these objections, the Planning Authority went on to approve the development after it found that the ‘the height limitation within Urban Conservation Areas is based on a contextual approach’ and in this case, the extensions would match the already existing floors.

As to the alleged nuisance and associated health hazards, the Authority observed that applicant had submitted an engineer’s report ‘which certifies that mitigation measures will be adopted to ensure that noise emissions will not exceed 45dB(A)’.

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

Moreover the objectors requested the Tribunal to suspend the works pending a final decision.

In its assessment, the Tribunal made reference to Article 33 (1) of the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal Act, which provides that at the request of the appellant, the Tribunal may suspend through a partial decision, in whole or in part, the execution of any permit ‘pending a decision being delivered by the said Tribunal, under those terms, conditions and other measures as it may deem fit’.  

In addition, the Tribunal considered that it was empowered to suspend the execution of a permit once it is satisfied, after hearing all the parties, that the prejudice to be caused should works proceed according to permit, ‘would be disproportionate when compared with the prejudice caused by the staying of the actual execution of the permit.’

After hearing the parties, the Tribunal was convinced that the allegations put forward by the objectors could potentially give rise to a disproportionate prejudice should applicant proceed with the works approved in this permit.

For this reason, the Tribunal acceded to objectors’ request to suspend the permit until a  final decision is delivered within three months.