MEPA responds to Qala Development report
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The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) in reply to the Auditor’s report on redevelopment of a property in Qala, better known as Ta’ Xerri l-Bukkett would like to clarify a number of issues that the Auditor chose to ignore or omit in his final report following a detailed explanation and planning reasons as to why the permit was issued at the reconsideration stage.
Firstly the Authority would like to remind and point out that although there was a first refusal to this application, this was entirely based on the fact that the proposed development over-spilled the category 1 boundary. At reconsideration stage the drawings were amended and the ones approved showed that the development including the swimming pools was to be all within the category 1 settlement zone, even though according to planning policies of swimming pools, these could have even been placed outside this settlement boundary.
While the Auditor also stated in his report that the DCC wrongly permitted underlying basements to the development, the interpretation of the Policy (GZ-RLST-1), as had been published by the Local Planning Unit, clearly explain and states that this policy permits the construction of a basement under street level.
The Authority also points out that the proposed three storey development was in accordance with the ridge edge policy that governs such developments. Not only, the DCC limited the approved height to 72% of the permissible height given the in DC2007. This in fact is why the visual impact of the proposal was minimized, especially at the back.
Lastly, the Auditor questions the validity of the photomontages presented by the applicant and seems to favour those handed in by the objectors. The objectors’ photomontages were produced prior to the first decision and so present an absurd picture of what was approved. Here the Auditor should point out that the submitted photomontages of the objectors were totally misleading and not based on the actual plans and elevations related to the development. Interestingly, had the applicant submitted such misleading information, his application could have been revoked though Article 39(A) of the Development Planning Act, while when objectors submit misleading information there are no consequence. The approved photomontages are being attached for publication.
The Authority concludes that the Audit Officer should have never carried out an investigated and more so published his report given that this case is infront of the Appeals Board. The Ombudsman had, in the past, already warned the Auditor not to investigate planning cases that are sub judice. The Authority regrets that the Audit Officer’s actions once again contradict the decision of a higher institution – this time the Ombudsman’s Office.
Malta Environment and Planning Authority