PA revises its processes to allow the submission of DNs in regularised properties

The Planning Authority has announced this morning that after having been alerted by the Kamra tal-Periti, it has reviewed its process regarding Development Notifications (DNs) for properties covered by a valid regularisation.

Members of the Kamra had notified the Council back in March 2018 that the Planning Authority was not accepting DNs on properties covered by a regularisation. Periti were being advised to submit full or summary planning applications instead.

The Development Notification Order (DNO) provides a schedule of types of minor development that are automatically permitted without requiring a formal planning application. In Malta, permitted developments are classified in two categories: permitted without notification; and permitted with notification. In the latter category, the applicant is required to submit through his/her Perit a notification together with plans, photographs and payment of €60 fee to the Planning Authority so it may be notified about the works and confirm that they fall within the schedule of permitted development.

The Planning Authority had in recent years decided not to allow DNs for properties covered by an active planning permit, and directed periti to submit Minor Amendment (MA) requests instead. Although nowhere in the law does it state that properties covered by an active permit cannot also be the subject of a DN, there were little practical differences between a DN and a MA, except for the planning fee which in the latter case is €175, instead of €60.

The difficulties arose when regularisations started being approved, since the Regularisation of Existing Development Regulations did not allow for the possibility of submitting a MA, and the internal procedures of the PA also prevented periti from submitting a DN on behalf of their clients. This resulted in applicants having to go through much lengthier planning processes to seek planning approval for minor development which had already been approved and listed in the schedule of the DNO.

With the announcement made by the PA this morning, owners who wished to make a minor alteration to their property but needed to regularise it first are no longer being prejudiced by the incorrect application of the law.

Premju Emanuele Luigi Galizia

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PR 06/18 | Our Legacy / Wirtna – Meeting with Partit Demokratiku

On the 18th April 2018, 22 entities active in the field of cultural heritage signed a Declaration calling for the preservation of our built heritage. The Declaration, titled “Our Legacy – Wirtna” presented the fundamental message that the manner in which we treat our heritage is the legacy we leave for future generations.

Given the significant role of the political class in upholding the principles outlined in the Declaration, meetings are being held with the political parties. The first such meeting took place on the 31st May 2018, when representatives of the Kamra tal-Periti, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar and The Archaeological Society Malta met with Dr Anthony Buttigieg and Timothy Alden, Leader and Deputy Leader respectively of Partit Demokratiku.

A number of issues were discussed including the unsatisfactory performance of the Planning Authority and the Environment and Resources Authority, as well as the severe lack of resources of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and the weak legislation that governs it.

The representatives of Partit Demokratiku confirmed their agreement with the statements made in the Declaration and pledged the Party’s support by offering to act as a vehicle to communicate the message of “Our Legacy – Wirtna” through its elected MPs Dr Marlene Farrugia and Dr Godfrey Farrugia.

For further information visit: https://www.facebook.com/SafeguardingHeritageTogether/

Right to Left: Dr Anthony Buttigieg (Leader, Partit Demokratiku); Timothy Alden (Deputy Leader, Partit Demokratiku); Maria Grazia Cassar (Executive President, Din l-Art Ħelwa); Perit Tara Cassar (Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar); Dr Petra Caruana Dingli (Din l-Art Ħelwa); Prof Alex Torpiano (Kamra tal-Periti).

Left to right: Dr Anthony Buttigieg (Leader, Partit Demokratiku); Timothy Alden (Deputy Leader, Partit Demokratiku); Patricia Camilleri (President, The Archaeological Society Malta); Prof Alex Torpiano (Kamra tal-Periti); Dr Petra Caruana Dingli (Din l-Art Ħelwa); Perit Tara Cassar (Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar).

 

 

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PR 05/18 | Commuted Parking Payment Scheme

The Planning Authority has announced radical changes in the Commuted Parking Payment Scheme (CPPS), yet again without consultation with anybody. By means of PA Circular 2/18, published on 30th May, the Planning Authority announced changes, applicable as from 1st June – that is with less than two days’ notice! These changes envisage that the amount payable to the Planning Authority, for each car space below the minimum car-parking standards (prescribed by the Planning Authority itself), increases from €1,164.89 or €2,096.44 (depending on locality) to €2,500 for each of the first two car spaces, €6,000 for each of between 3 and 9 car spaces, and to €9,000 for each of 10 or more car spaces below this minimum standard.  The Kamra tal-Periti condemns the behavior of the Planning Authority, which is arrogant enough to triple, quadruple and quintuple its revenue generating mechanisms, without deigning to even consult anybody in the industry, and without giving a decent notice to the principal actors in the industry. The Planning Authority unnecessarily created a situation where panicked developers pressured periti to submit planning applications by midnight of 31st May, jamming the PA’s servers as a result.

Apart from the way this change was introduced, the Kamra tal-Periti has strong reservations about a scheme which is disguised as planning policy intended to help alleviate traffic problems, but which is nothing more than a crude revenue-generating mechanism. After 20 years of the CPPS, does the Planning Authority have any evidence that the policy has actually helped alleviate traffic? Twenty years ago, planning thinking in Malta was that it was necessary for proposed developments to accommodate parking for private vehicles that, it was estimated, would be generated by the proposed development. This type of flawed thinking has already been abandoned in most industrialized countries.

The provision of more parking encourages the use of private vehicles as opposed to public transport, and therefore it promotes road traffic congestion; research has shown that parking provision can actually be a disincentive against public transport, especially if it were free for the users of the building. The Planning Authority should have first studied whether, rather than promoting minimum parking provision standards, it ought to establish maximum standards of affiliated parking facilities. It could also have studied how many of garages in new developments are actually being sold to buyers of apartments, rather than left vacant, and hence not contributing to the envisaged alleviation of traffic congestion.

The extraordinary increase in CPPS fees will not reduce private vehicular traffic, neither will it promote green transport practices. It will certainly encourage developers to construct ever larger under-ground car-parking facilities, involving deeper excavations, more generation of waste, and more consumption of energy to maintain adequate environmental conditions in these facilities.

Twenty years since the introduction of the CPPS, it can now be confirmed that it is a failed planning policy, as not only does it not address parking shortfall problems but is the main contributor to traffic generation, air quality deterioration, degradation of quality of life through noise and dust pollution, and a major cause of inert waste generation that ends in our country’s landfills with adverse impacts on our countryside.

The Kamra tal-Periti calls on the Planning Authority to reverse the proposed changes to its CPPS policy, and to undertake a proper study on the impact of such schemes on traffic patterns and use of public transport. The Kamra insists that planning is too important to be left solely to the Planning Authority; consultation with other actors in the industry would be beneficial to Malta, indeed it is essential. Rather than glibly referring to green travel interventions, the Planning Authority is urged to embrace the real meaning of sustainable transport policy making. The Planning Authority needs to radically review its current planning paradigms and policies, and learn from international best practice in this field to provide a more holistic and comprehensive planning system, which integrates public transport in new development schemes, and uses planning gain as a measure to subsidise public transport, and promote a much needed modal shift away from private car use.

Indeed, the Planning Authority should start fulfilling its primary role of planning rather than just focusing exclusively on development permitting.

 

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PR 03/18 | Our Legacy – Wirtna

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PR 02/18 | Proposed new DNO Class for Fireworks Factories

The Planning Authority has issued for public consultation a draft Legal Notice which will effectively render any illegal fireworks factories built prior to 1994 legal, without any due process, application or consultation.

The Planning Authority is proposing that such illegal development is considered as “permitted development” under the Development Notification Order (DNO) Classes, even if such constructions are in conflict with regulations and legislation.

Under the misleadling Class title of “Existing development related to Malta’s culture and tradition”, the Authority is effectively singling out one type of development, and an illegal one at that, and giving it a carte blanche approval through a legislative measure.

It is important to ask why it is necessary for these fireworks factories to be rendered legal through this Legal Notice, rather than through the appropriate planning application processes already in place; unless, of course, this is because they would not normally be permitted if the current processes are followed. If this Legal Notice is approved, these illegal developments will be rendered legal without any public consultation, and without any consultation with the relevant Authorities.

The Kamra tal-Periti strongly objects to the proposed Legal Notice, and urges Government and the Planning Authority to review its stance in favour of a more equitable and just solution.

 

The complete consultation feedback submitted by the Kamra tal-Periti to the Planning Authority can be downloaded in below.

 

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker
Vice President

 

Planning Authority responds to the Kamra’s concerns about CTBs by citing the funds it has generated as a result

The Planning Authority has responded to the article published by the Kamra on this website regarding the predicament owners of properties covered by CTBs find themselves in as a result of the incorrect interpretation of the law regarding the effects of the concessions they were granted.

As explained in the previous article, property owners who submitted a CTB application to the PA to cover illegal development that fell within specific parameters, together with a payment of €250, were granted the two following concessions, as outlined in PA Circular 4/12:

  1. applications requesting permission for alterations and additions to the same dwelling unit could be accepted (without prejudice to any other requirements); and
  2. a Certificate for the provision of new water / electrical services to the dwelling could be issued as per Article 92 of the Act.

The circular also points out that CTBs do “not have an expiry date“.

The Kamra raised its concerns about the Planning Authority’s insistence that properties covered by a CTB must first be regularised before a new application requesting permission for alterations or additions could be accepted, completely subverting the effects of the CTB, which is a legally acquired right.

In its statement, the Planning Authority confirms that CTBs do not regularise or sanction properties. It also implies that the new regulations are in some way giving people an opportunity by stating that gave the “possibility to holders of CTB concessions to regularize the unauthorized interventions covered by such concessions.” However, it does not comment about various instances where applicants were made to regularise their property, despite being covered by a CTB, and does not comment on the legality or fairness of its unilateral decision not to recognise the concessions granted by CTBs thereby prejudicing owners of such properties, not to mention the banks that have hypothecated such properties as a mortgage security.

The Planning Authority concludes by saying that it “has received 5897 applications for the Regularisation of Development Inside Development Zone from August 2016 until recently. These applications have generated €13,901,159.06 of funds which are distributed as follows: 70% for the Irrestawra Darek scheme, 20% for the Development Planning Fund and 10% for the authority’s administrative expenses in relation to these schemes.”

This would appear to confirm a more cynical explanation as to why the Authority has decided to disregard the legality of CTBs – that its main interest is that of generating funds for the Authority’s schemes rather than seeking equity and fairness.

Members of the public and of the profession are invited to contact the Kamra tal-Periti on info@kamratalperiti.org should they have been compelled or are being compelled into regularising a property covered by a CTB, providing details about their case. All communication will be handled in strict confidence.