Planning Authority could refuse Fenech Adami’s garden plans (and menagerie)

Nationalist MP’s concrete passageways on the agricultural land at the back of his house turned a field into a garden in breach of planning rules

Beppe Fenech Adami (inset)
Beppe Fenech Adami (inset)

Beppe Fenech Adami may have a problem.

In 2016, the Nationalist MP was taken to task over irregularities at his Gharghur villa – once a two-storey terraced house that eventually grew to include a swimming pool in land outside development zones.

In July 2017, the former PN deputy leader requested planning approval to sanction the landscaping he carried out at the back of his villa, which was not in line with original plans.

But the Planning Authority’s planning directorate is recommending that his request – which includes a request to permit a coop of emus, peacocks and ducks – cannot be approved.

In an embarrassing turn of events for Fenech Adami, who has always insisted on the legality of his development, the PA’s case officer said that a passageway that runs across his field behind his dwelling resulted in the take-up of agricultural land and “unjustified formalisation of the field”.

That suggests the MP turned the agricultural lot behind his house into his garden, against the rules laid out for rural development in the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development, which serve to protect sensitive landscapes.

Additionally, Fenech Adami’s proposal did not provide adequate details on the animal enclosures he currently has on site, which might have to be equipped with a different type of enclosure. The PA’s agricultural advisory committee said the MP has a coop at the back and plans to build an aviary: the coop has nothing short of seven hens, four cocks, nine guinea fowl, a turkey, two emus, eight ducks and two peacocks, while the aviary is planned to hold zebra finches, Java sparrows, canaries and budgies.

In his request, Fenech Adami is seeking to sanction the landscaping he carried out at the back of house, which resulted in a larger swimming pool and shape than originally allowed in a first permit; as well as passageway running across the field at the back of the house.

The Environment and Resources Authority said the field behind Fenech Adami’s house had been ‘formalised’ into a garden, something that was not allowed
The Environment and Resources Authority said the field behind Fenech Adami’s house had been ‘formalised’ into a garden, something that was not allowed

“The sanctioning of the 2.6m-wide passageways running across the field is the major concern of this application,” the case officer wrote – “given that this has lead [sic] to the take-up [of] agricultural land and unjustified formalisation of the field with a rural area.”

Fenech Adami’s house lies within development zones, except for his swimming pool and the field behind his house, which lie outside development zones (ODZ). The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) pointed out that Fenech Adami had turned the agricultural lot behind his house, into a “formal garden” with the introduction of a paved area, built structures and gazebos, and for this reason objected to his latest proposal.

Both the ERA and the AAC (agricultural committee) objected to the passageways running across the field. The AAC said the paving was “not for the genuine need of agriculture”.

Additionally, Fenech Adami was called upon by the PA to settle a €16,000 building levy for his application to sanction the landscaping variations and the passageway on the agricultural fields. He filed an appeal through his architect, Paul Camilleri, and lawyer Ian Stafrace – himself a former PA chief executive – claiming the computation of the levy had been excessive.

All fowl play: emus, peacocks, ducks, chickens and guinea fowl inside Beppe Fenech Adami’s coop
All fowl play: emus, peacocks, ducks, chickens and guinea fowl inside Beppe Fenech Adami’s coop

“An access passage leading from the terraced house into the field does not constitute the formalisation of a garden in an ODZ area,” Fenech Adami said in his appeal on the levy, saying the passageways constituted just 7% of the field’s area. “There are various instances where the PA granted permits for access pathways in fields, which we reserve the right to quote examples of during the course of the proceedings.”

However, the appeal was abandoned some time after July 2017, when the PA official gave an explanation of the computation of the fees based on the size of the area.

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