A planning application for “internal and external alterations and addition of a garage” to a legally established dwelling in Misrah Frenc Abela, Dingli, was turned down by the Planning Commission but sanctioned by the Environment and Planning Tribunal.

The commission held inter alia that the proposed garage opening is located at a distance which is less than four metres from the nearest  corner as required by Policy 4.7 of DC 2007.

The Commission also argued that the proposed development is incompatible with the urban design and environmental characteristics of the Urban Conservation Area, adding that the interventions would not maintain the visual integrity of the area as required by Structure Plan Policy BEN 2. In conclusion, the Commission strangely highlighted that the proposal was in violation of Structure Plan Policy AHF 5, in that  the proposed development is not essential to the operation and/or management of a farm unit, and hence to the needs of agriculture.

Following the decision, the applicant lodged an appeal before the Environment and Planning Tribunal, pointing out  that Transport Malta had issued a “no objection” notwithstanding the fact that the design of the garage door ran counter to planning regulations – in this case, Policy 4.7 of DC 2007. But even so, the applicant insisted that his property consists of a residence and any reference to farm policies which was made in the refusal report should be dismissed.

In reaction, the case officer admitted that the refusal report should not have made any reference to any “farm policies” since the building subject of the application consists of a dwelling.

In fact, the case officer observed that the third reason for refusal should have read as follows: “The proposed development would detract from the overall objectives of the Structure Plan for the preservation and enhancement of buildings, spaces and townscapes within Urban Conservation Areas and so does not comply with Structure Plan policy UCO6.”

But even so, the case officer reiterated that the distance between the proposed garage door and the nearest street corner/junction  is equivalent to three metres, therefore running counter to the requirements of Policy 4.7 of DC 2007 which essentially require a minimum four metre distance between doors and street junctions or corners. 

In its assessment, the Tribunal asserted that Transport Malta found no objection to the proposal and took note of the fact that the proposal would remove a nearby parking space which is currently constituting a traffic hazard. Against this background, the Tribunal ordered the Authority to issue the permit.