PA tightens ODZ screws as Bahrija permit set for refusal

In a clear sign of cautiousness from the Planning Authority in the aftermath of the controversial Qala decision, a permit for a 200sq.m Bahrija dwelling is set for refusal because of environmental consideration

In a clear sign of cautiousness from the Planning Authority in the aftermath of the controversial Qala decision, a permit for a 200sq.m Bahrija dwelling is set for refusal because of environmental considerations.

Despite rural policy development guidelines potentially being used to green-light the project, the PA’s planning drectorate is firmly opposing the redevelopment of an existing 45sq.m, one-storey building into a two-storey villa and pool in the picturesque tat-Tilliera area of Bahrija.

Although the submitted documentation shows the structures are considered an “established residence” dating prior to 1978, the site in question lies within an area of high landscape value. The development has been objected to by the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA) and Superintendent of Cultural Heritage (SCH).

To refuse the permit the planning directorate has invoked a provision in the rural policy guidelines, stating that any extension to an existing building outside development zones must be of “a compatible design and must respect the rural context”.

Moreover, the swimming pool is deemed in breach of another provision of the policy, which bans such development in protected archaeological areas like this one.

In this case the applicant submitted the required documentation to prove the residential use of the site, including copy of ID cards of tenants, old photos of the building, a copy of the electoral registers from 1947 to 1993, a copy of utility bills dated 2003 and 2017, and property deeds showing its recent acquisition from former owners.

A final decision has yet to be taken by the PA’s planning commission, chaired by Elizabeth Ellul.

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