74% of Planning Authority zoning applications not accessible to the public

Zoning applications not accessible to the public include a couple of large tracts of land within building zones, but located in sensitive areas of ecological value on which ERA has already expressed strong reservations

Among the published PC applications of this year, one finds applications setting development parameters for the Naxxar Trade Fair site and the Merkanti coastline in Paceville
Among the published PC applications of this year, one finds applications setting development parameters for the Naxxar Trade Fair site and the Merkanti coastline in Paceville

Just 18 out of a total 68 zoning applications presented in 2019 have been published on the Planning Authority’s website.

Zoning applications, known as planning control applications, set the planning parameters on matters like height, use and road access for particular sites. Subsequent planning permits are issued on the basis of the parameters set in these applications.

Up to May 2019, PC applications were published on the PA’s website at the very beginning of the application process. But since May the PA removed all pending applications deemed to be “incomplete” – including zoning applications.

In this case, the site area covered by these applications cannot even be traced on the Authority’s geo-server as is the case with normal “ghost” applications, whose details are still unknown but whose location can still be traced.

PC applications cover a wide range of applications, ranging from small-scale changes in road alignments to proposals which set parameters for very large-scale developments. PC applications are also required to set parameters included in the infamous 2006 extension of building boundaries.

Among the published PC applications of this year, one finds applications setting development parameters for the Naxxar Trade Fair site and the Merkanti coastline in Paceville.

Sources in the Planning Authority have told MaltaToday that zoning applications which are not accessible to the public include a couple of large tracts of land, which although within building zones, are located in sensitive areas of ecological value on which ERA has already expressed strong reservations.

The pruning of public information has also affected applications presented a year ago. One controversial application removed from the public information system is PC 142/18 which envisages the application of the Floor Area Ratio policy (used for high and medium rises) for the Australia Hall site in Pembroke.

A zoning application removed from the public information system envisages residential development right inside the agricultural land behind the Le Meridien car park in St Julian’s.

The Planning Authority has justified taking off applications because its legal obligation to publish application details and related plans only arises when the application process is finalised. An application is only considered ‘complete’ when the application form is fully filled and all documentation required has been fully submitted.

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