Reconstruction of long-collapsed buildings allowed in ODZ: Front Harsien calls for policy review

2014 guidelines allow the reconstruction of long-collapsed buildings and erection of new dwellings in the countryside

The owners of a Zabbar farmhouse that collapsed 38 years ago want to rebuild it into a two-storey dwelling
The owners of a Zabbar farmhouse that collapsed 38 years ago want to rebuild it into a two-storey dwelling

Front Ħarsien ODZ is calling for a revision of a policy included in the Rural Policy and Design Guidelines, approved in 2014, which is resulting in the reconstruction of long-collapsed buildings and the erection of new dwellings in the countryside.

A case in point, Front said, was the issuance of a permit for a dwelling in an outside development zone in Tal-Fata, Haz-Zabbar.

"Although the original structure no longer exists after collapsing in the 1970s, a permit was issued for a two-storey dwelling over a footprint of 121 square metres, on the premise that a voter was registered on this address in the 1947 electoral register,” Front said.

A similar permit issued in September 2015 foresaw the demolition of three roofless structures to be converted into a villa with a swimming pool, on the Rabat outskirts of Landrijiet, also ODZ.

The rebuilding of old ruins in outside development zones into new dwellings is permitted by the rural policy, if developers present proof that the ruins were once used as a residence. 

Moreover, according to the policy, any building constructed before 1978 is considered as legal. Therefore, any pre-1978 building whose existence can be confirmed on a site plan can now be rebuilt, even if it no longer exists.       

“The redevelopment of ‘ruins’ was specifically excluded in the first draft policy regulating rural and ODZ developments issued for public consultation in October 2013,” the Front pointed out.

Ruins were defined as "any dilapidated structure which had lost the majority of its supporting walls or roofs.” This clause was however removed in the approved document.

“The Planning Authority must reintroduce this safeguard against a loophole which is being used to build new residential development in ODZ areas,” Front Harsien ODZ said.

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