A development application entitled “to sanction existing residence structures post 1967 and demolish and reconstruct deteriorated roof slabs” was turned down by the Planning Commission after it was found that the proposal ran counter to ODZ policies, specifically policy 6.3 of the Rural and Policy Design Guidelines which allows for limited extensions to dwellings on condition that the residential use had commenced prior to 1992.

Indeed, the Commission held that, in this case, the applicant failed to demonstrate that the premises were used as a dwelling prior to 1992 notwithstanding the property being described as an ‘existing residence’ in the proposal. Reference was also made to Thematic Objective 1 of the Strategic Plan for Environment & Development (SPED) which ‘limits’ the land take up for uses which are not necessary or legitimate in rural areas. Furthermore, the proposal was deemed to be in violation of Rural Objectives 1, 3, and 4. These objectives were designed ‘to facilitate sustainable rural development by controlling the location and design of rural development, as well as the cumulative effect of such development.’

As a reaction, the applicant filed an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal insisting that the Commission’s decision should be reversed. In his appeal submissions, the applicant went to explain that ‘the only problem that the Authority found, was the fact that the address on the evidence submitted referred to Annunzjata, Triq Hal Tarxien, Tarxien whilst today it makes part of Ghaxaq and the address is now Annunzjata, Triq Hal Tarxien, Hal Ghaxaq.’ The issue was eventually taken up by the Ghaxaq Local Council, following which it released a written communication stating that ‘the street originally named Triq Hal Tarxien, Tarxien, today forms part of the locality of Ghaxaq.’ This went to prove, according to the appellant, that his property, originally located in Tarxien, was subsequently registered in Ghaxaq.

In reply, the Authority reiterated that there was a discrepancy between the address shown in the permit application (namely, Annunzjata, Triq Hal Tarxien, Hal Ghaxaq) and the addresses quoted in the 1991 Electoral Register (namely, Annunzjata, Triq Hal Tarxien, Tarxien). In this light, the applicant failed to convince the Authority that the residential use was established prior to 1992 as required by policy. Moreover, the Authority held that it was not satisfied with the declaration released by the Ghaxaq Local Council whereby it was held that ‘the street originally named Triq Hal Tarxien, Tarxien, today forms part of the locality of Ghaxaq.’

In its assessment, the Tribunal maintained that there was no dispute insofar as the name of the premises was concerned as both parties agreed that the building was known as ‘Anunzjata’. The Tribunal noted that the 1991 electoral register showed that a building named ‘Anunzjata’ was located in Triq il-Gudja, Tarxien. Nonetheless, the boundaries were eventually changed in 1995 so that Triq il-Gudja now forms part of Hal Ghaxaq as highlighted in the Council’s letter. The Tribunal was therefore convinced that both registers referred to one and the same dwelling – the house known as ‘Anunzjata’. Against this background, the Tribunal ordered the Authority to issue the permit.