PA’s magic wand turns tiny room into 189sq.m home

The approval of a 189 square metre home in Siggiewi by the PA, reveals how developers are using the 2014 policy to turn small countryside structures into small villas  

Soon to turn into a villa: A 50sq.m room
Soon to turn into a villa: A 50sq.m room

The approval of a 189 square metre home in Siggiewi has emerged as another textbook case of how small countryside structures are being turned into small villas using a 2014 policy.

The planning policy allows rural ruins to be turned into homes if owners manage to prove that someone used to live in them in the past.

The latest example involves an old 50sq.m room, with a habitable internal area of only 25sq.m, accessible through a country lane linked to Triq il-Lewz in Siggiewi’s Ta’ Xurraf area.

The proposal involves the construction of a 75sq.m extension at ground floor level and a 65sq.m extension at first floor level, which will effectively increase the total building floor space from 49 to 189sq.m, a 385% boost – almost four times as much as the current building profile.

The small room is located on a 7,000sq.m plot of agricultural land bought by Dianco Company Limited in 2017.

During the processing of the application, architect Robert Musumeci submitted an extract from the 1939 electoral register showing Lorenzo Farrugia as a registered voter at a ‘Farmhouse’ located in the limits of ‘Tax-Xurraf’, Siggiewi.

The case officer initially objected, noting that this does not clearly establish the previous residential use of the building as it was not clear whether this relates to the site in question or to another building in Ta’ Xurraf. He also noted the absence of any legal declaration proving that a certain Lorenzo Farrugia was the ancestor of the Farrugia siblings, who sold the property to Dianco Co. Ltd in 2017.

But subsequently the architect submitted further notarial proof consisting in a receipt issued in 1940 which established a link between the property in question and Guiseppe Farrugia, a direct ancestor of the siblings who sold the property in 2017. This was accepted as proof of past residential use by the PA’s planning commission, which issued the permit.

The Environment and Resources Authority objected to the proposed development as it involves the construction of a new property outside development zones, and the replacement of undeveloped land with urban-type development – which creates a precedent for further built-up structures in the area.

Indeed, the PA has recently issued a permit for a swimming pool and decking area for a brand new ODZ dwelling in Tal-Fata in Zabbar. The dwelling is being constructed instead of a pile of rubble that was left from a farmhouse which collapsed more than 30 years ago.

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