ERA flags ‘telling example’ of PA’s piecemeal permitting

The Environment and Resources Authority described an application to extend a dwelling's footprint as a 'telling example' of its concerns for foreseeable pressures for expansion to accommodate ancillary demands once initial permission is granted

Photo shows original structure before permits were issued in 2009 and 2015. Now the PA has approved another 30 sq.m thanks to new policies
Photo shows original structure before permits were issued in 2009 and 2015. Now the PA has approved another 30 sq.m thanks to new policies

A 30 sq.m extension to the footprint of a new dwelling approved against the advice of the Environment and Resources Authority, has now been approved by the Environment and Planning Commission last Friday.

The EPC is the Planning Authority organ responsible for day-to-day planning decisions.

The proposal involves an extension at ground floor level, the addition of a basement level underneath the footprint of the proposed extension, and will bring the dwelling’s total floor area to 180 sq.m.

The Environment and Resources Authority described this application as a “telling example” of its concerns for foreseeable pressures for expansion to accommodate ancillary demands once initial permission is granted. 

The solitary farmhouse is currently under construction on the site known as Tas-Santi, located in the limits of Mgarr (Malta). The area is characterized by both agricultural land and garigue and is identified as an Area of High Landscape Value due to its vicinity to the Victoria Lines.

The original permit was granted despite objections by the Environment Protection Directorate, which raised concern over the envisaged negative environmental impacts that the proposal would exert on the environmentally sensitive context in which it is situated.

The ERA now says the latest permit further extends the building towards the edge of the headwaters of the valley. 

The latest permit not only has increased the building mass and footprint over and above the floorspace and footprint that were approved in previous permits but includes the use of glass panels and aluminium which the ERA considered “extraneous and intrusive in such an open rural area”.

The 2015 permit was only issued thanks to a legal notice issued by the newly elected Labour government in 2013. This is because the original permission was valid only till May 2014. The renewal application was submitted on November 2014. 

But a legal notice in 2013 allowed any development permission approved on or after 3 August 2006, which would have otherwise expired before 31 March, 2015, to be made automatically operative till 31 March, 2015. So the renewal application was submitted within the legal timeframe. 

The application was also approved because no new policies were introduced after 2009 “which would militate against the issue of the renewal of permission.”

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