Planning Authority to resume public meetings with video-conferencing

Video-conferenced PA meetings, and all development permits extended by three years

The Planning Authority will introduce video-conferencing to conducts its public meetings, a new legal notice published Saturday has decreed.

As the extraordinary circumstances from the COVID-19 pandemic forces the country into a partial lockdown, the site where planning decisions are taken in Malta - always places of public confrontation between developers, residents and the regulator - will now meet using electronic or other viable means of communication. 

“Given the extraordinary circumstances that the country is facing due to COVID-19, the Authority has introduced a new protocol that will allow its Planning Board or Commissions to conduct their meetings in public using electronic or other viable means of communication.

“Public health takes precedence over all other priorities. To this end, the Planning Authority will soon re-start Planning Board and Planning Commission public meetings using video conferencing, this following the publication of a legal notice which has amended the way public meetings are to be conducted,” the PA said in a statement.

The legal notice decrees that an applicant, their architect, a registered interested party and any member of the public will, at the discretion of the chairperson, be allowed to make submissions related to the case the board or commission will be discussing, by electronic means.

Any member of the public who wishes to participate in the meeting held through electronic means will, at least one working day before the date of the meeting notify the PA board of the commission of their interest.

The move comes a week since the environment minister stopped PA boards and commissions from convening without the public present, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Planning Authority will also extend all valid development permits which are due to expire by 31st December 2022, by an additional three years.

In a second legal notice issued the same day, the PA will allow current permit holders who might be unable to carry out works, to have their permit valid right up until 2025.

The move is interpreted as a way of ensuring developers’ rights are not short-circuited by the pandemic shutdown, and to ensure an orderly resumption of works.