ERA ignored again by the Planning Authority

The permit for a Zabbar structure was issued in defiance of the advice of the Environment and Resources Authority

The former military post in Zabbar was granted a permit as a dwelling with pool after an illegal wall and gate were regularised
The former military post in Zabbar was granted a permit as a dwelling with pool after an illegal wall and gate were regularised

An old 77m2 structure at San Anard in Zabbar, surrounded by an illegal boundary wall which had originally consisted of a 28m2 off-guard  military post, has been extended as a full blown 141 square metre dwelling with a swimming pool.  

The permit was issued in defiance of the advice of the Environment and Resources Authority, confirming a trend which is exposing the imbalance in power between the two authorities.

The permit was granted on the pretext that the 1960 electoral register specified that three people lived in the structure. 

Moreover the current owner, Salvu Grech submitted proof that he bought the structure from the descendants of the family listed in the electoral register. According to the case officer the existing structure is legal as it is visible in aerial photos taken in 1978. But the surrounding wall and gate are clearly a more recent intervention.

In fact the PA has also regularised a number of illegalities consisting of a boundary wall, a two-metre high gate and a ramp.

In approving the development the PA completely disregarded the advice of the Environment and Resources Authority.

In a memo sent to the PA, the ERA noted that the original building documented in a 1968 survey sheet consists of a 28 square metre structure. The ERA noted that this has sprawled into “a new full blown residential unit” occupying 400 square metres of land (which includes the area enveloped by the illegal wall and gate).

The ERA noted that photos submitted with the application indicate that the old structure has been extended significantly while the remainder of the site has seen a loss of agricultural land and the “formalisation of the site” through paving.

According to the ERA the additions made to the small rural structure has resulted in “an urban type” development and the take up of undeveloped rural land. It also expressed its concern on the trend to grant  “retroactive sanctioning of a number of similar developments carried out in the ODZ without any environmental consideration.” In view of this the ERA called on the PA to order the developer to remove all the illegalities on the site and restore the site to its original state. Instead the PA has now approved a small villa with pool.

More in National