In the first instance case, applicant sought permission to construct two additional residential floors on an existing multi storey complex situated in Triq in-Naxxar, San Gwann.
The said application was turned down by the Planning Commission due to the fact that a 50cm screening wall was being provided at topmost level (instead of the statutory one-metre wall required by policy P35 of the Development Control Guidance 2015 or DC2015).
Indeed, a one-metre wall would have meant that the building envelope would exceed the statutory height limitations.
In fact, the Commission argued that “if the obligatory one-metre high parapet wall was to be provided, the resulting proposed building height including the parapet wall would exceed the maximum local plan height limitation and the corresponding height in metres.”
For this reason, the Commission considered that the proposal was in violation of Urban Objective 3 of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development (SPED) which aims to protect and enhance the character and amenity of urban areas.
Aggrieved by the decision, applicant lodged an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal whereby he insisted that the Commission had failed to take note of the fact that his site was surrounded by ‘similar’ development.
Moreover, applicant, now appellant, made reference to several planning applications which were granted permission “without the need to provide a one-metre parapet wall at roof level” and which the Authority was now giving the impression that prospective developers may not do away with.
In reply, the case officer argued that according to policy P35 of DC2015, buildings should include an obligatory one-metre parapet wall on the exposed facades at the uppermost roof level. With reference to the quoted precedents, the case officer acknowledged their existence but yet insisted that “the requirements and regulations set out in the Development Control Guidance 2015 were still in force.”
In its assessment, the Tribunal acknowledged that, as a rule, a one-metre parapet wall at roof level should be provided. Nevertheless, the Tribunal went to observe that in appellant’s case, the building was already committed by virtue of a valid permit issued in 2014 and consequently applicant had no viable alternatives.
The Tribunal went further to note that “new development within the block, street or neighbourhood should endeavour to conform to the pattern set by the existing adjoining development and/or the requirements and conditions that have been applied to such development, so as to maintain the character of the area.”
After having regard to the street context, the Tribunal felt that the permit should be issued given that a 50cm wall would still have served its intended purpose.