Conversion of stable to residence rejected

According to the Authority’s official records, the building was however designated as a stable, this lead to the Environment and Planning Commission to turn down applicant’s request for an extension to a building

At issue was a planning application to regularise the carrying out of unauthorised interventions together with an extension to a building used as a residence which was located outside the development zone of Dingli. According to the Authority’s official records, the building was however designated as a stable. Following a thorough assessment, the Environment and Planning Commission had turned down applicant’s request on the following grounds:

  • The proposal ran counter to criterion (5c) of Policy 6.2C since the redevelopment of pre 1978 structures into a new dwelling could be only permitted when the building was a disused livestock farms which had ceased its operations for at least 10 years;
  • An ‘unauthorised greenhouses structure’ was detected on applicants’ site and until such structure was removed, the application could not be assessed further;
  • There were no reasons from a planning point of view as to why the dwelling could not be located in an area designated for development or in an existing built-up area.

In reaction, applicant lodged an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the permit should have been issued. In his appeal application (rikors), applicant (now, appellant) argued that, at present, the ‘disused rooms were creating a negative impact on the surroundings and the area itself.’ Appellant further noted that the existing buildings were not in use for a period exceeding 10 years. As for the ‘illegal greenhouse’, appellant countered that this was constructed in the 1970s and financed by the Maltese Government. Consequently, the Authority was wrong to allege that the greenhouse was illegal.

In reply, the Authority reiterated that the residential use was not legally established since the building was officially designated as a stable. The Authority went on to state that ‘the site was never actually used as a poultry farm since all permit applications have only allowed the stabling of horses.’ In addition, the building was located in an area of Ecological Importance and High Landscape Value. Besides, the zone was designated as a Special Area of Conservation, a Special Protection Area and Bird Sanctuary. Furthermore, it was observed that the building had no vernacular or historical features which could possibly justify its conversion to residential use.

In its assessment, the Tribunal observed that it was not clear whether the building was ever used as a stable in line with the approved permit. What was certain, however, is that the building had no permit to show that it could be used as a livestock farm. For this reason, applicant was in no position to claim that the building was a ‘disused livestock farm’ which could therefore be redeveloped into a dwelling as per criterion (5c) of Policy 6.2C. Against this background, the appeal was rejected.