A planning application entitled ‘To sanction construction of agricultural stores as ancillary facility to agricultural holdings’, located in the limits of Mellieha, was rejected by the Planning Commission after it was found that the site was characterized by ‘another unauthorized storage building’ which was shown on plans.

Moreover, the Commission held that the applicant was in possession of other structures within the site, the footprint of which exceeds the maximum storage to which he is entitled.

Subsequently, the applicant filed an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the existing structures are essential ‘in order to till the agricultural holdings’.

The applicant explained that the stores are used ‘to house agricultural implements used for the daily tilling of the fields.’ The applicant went on to state that he has been registered as a full time farmer for a number of years, ‘along which he accumulated a considerable number of agricultural machinery items and implements.’ Furthermore, the drawings showed a fodder store having a considerable floor area. Yet, the applicant insisted that this store was required since he ‘breeds his animals in an organic manner.’

In reply, the case officer representing the Authority argued that the Tribunal cannot hear and decide on the merits of the appeal ‘as this application does not seek to sanction all illegal development on site in the form of a room adjacent to the one being sanctioned.’

The Authority made express reference to Article 14 (1) of Legal Notice 514/10 which states that ‘where illegal development is present on a site, new development on that same site cannot be considered unless it is regularized.’ This means that prior to assessing an application, the applicant is bound to remove all illegalities which the applicant has no intention to sanction.

But even so, the Authority noted that that applicant was in possession of a number of rooms which were built prior to 1967 (thus, considered legal) and which should serve applicant’s scope.

In its assessment, the Tribunal noted that the Authority was correct to observe that the appellant possessed an illegal room which was not shown on plans. Moreover, the Tribunal concluded that the proposal was in violation of current rural policies since the applicant was in possession of other storage rooms located within his holdings. Against this background, the Tribunal rejected the appeal.