Applicant had his proposal to excavate a site and build seven residential units turned down by the Planning Commission. The site borders Triq Sammy Bartolo in Mellieha, overlooking a valley.
According to the initial drawings, two of the seven dwellings were to be located below street level, facing the valley whilst lacking direct outlook from a schemed road.
To justify the decision, the Commission held as follows:
- The proposal was in breach of policy P38 of the Development Control Design Policy, Guidance and Standards 2015, since the drawings showed three independent dwelling units below street level;
- The proposal ran counter to policy P45, which does not permit development without a proper outlook;
- Unacceptable additional on-street car parking was envisaged since on site parking was not provided. This was not in the interest of the amenity of the area.
In reaction, applicant appealed the decision before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the Commission’s decision should be revoked. Applicant, now appellant, submitted that the Commission held two sittings prior to refusing his application.
During the first sitting, applicant alleged that he was given the impression that the Commission would accept his application subject to making a financial contribution towards the Urban Improvement Fund as an alternative to providing onsite parking. In addition, applicant submitted that his proposal would be revised in such manner so as to interconnect the basement dwellings with the habitable units above street level.
In reply, the Authority made reference to the fact that appellant was intent on revising his proposal. This, according to the case officer, went to show that the Commission was correct in refusing the application.
The Tribunal was further reminded that were such changes allowed at this late stage, the revised proposal would need to be reassessed by the sanitary officer. For this reason, the Tribunal was requested to confirm the decision, the more so since applicant had already been requested by the Commission to address the reasons for refusal
For its part, the Tribunal took note of applicant’s latest drawings, despite such changes being made at appeals stage. Having said that, the Tribunal felt that the proposal should be limited to having two levels below street level, instead of three. Against this background, the Tribunal ordered the Authority to issue the permit.