House restoration grant closed within minutes after flood of applications

Several owners of residences in town centres hoping to benefit from the Irrestawra Darek grant are left empty-handed due to overwhelming response that shut scheme within minutes

Owners of properties in UCAs could have benefitted from the grant scheme that finances up to €11,000 in restoration works
Owners of properties in UCAs could have benefitted from the grant scheme that finances up to €11,000 in restoration works

A restoration grant for owners of residences located in town centres had to be shut down within minutes of opening after applicants flooded the scheme.

The Planning Authority said on Tuesday that the Irrestawra Darek grant scheme received an overwhelming response from applicants “within minutes of its launch”.

“As a result, the category for private owners of residences located within an Urban Conservation Area (UCA) has been closed due to high demand and over-subscription. This category was allotted €4 million of the scheme’s €5 million budget. The evaluation process will be commencing shortly,” the PA said in a statement.

Many interested applicants were left high and dry as their architects tried in vain to access the online system to file the relevant documents.

“The system jammed within the first 15 minutes of the scheme opening,” one prospective applicant who failed to make it told MaltaToday.

The scheme is popular because the authority will reimburse all eligible restoration works carried out for residences in urban conservation areas subject to a limit of €11,000.

This is the fourth time that such a scheme has been issued. It aims to regenerate UCAs while promoting investment in the restoration, conservation, and maintenance of Malta’s built heritage.

The PA said that the scheme is scheduled to open again with a budget of €1 million for Grade 1 and Grade 2 residential properties. This category will open on Tuesday, 6 June, the PA said.

Planning Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi later said in parliament that within minutes of the scheme opening at noon, more than 350 applications were submitted.

He was replying to a parliamentary question by Nationalist Party MP Albert Buttigieg, who reported receiving several complaints from applicants who could not access the system.

Zrinzo Azzopardi said the scheme is capped at €4 million and applicants will benefit on a first come, first served basis.