The Commission held that the proposed interventions were objectionable ‘in principle’ since the wall was located outside the development zone. In giving the reasons for refusal, the Commission considered that the proposal was ‘not sensible to the general objective of protecting the rural setting and character, as specified in Thematic Objective 1.10 of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development.’
In reaction, the applicant lodged an appeal against the Planning Commission before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the proposed wall was ‘within the garden of a developable plot earmarked for residential development’. The applicant went on to observe that the said wall formed part of a rectangular plot, most of which lied within the schemed development zone. The appellant emphasized that the proposal contemplated a 1.2 metre high rubble wall beyond the 30 metre plot depth when measured from the building alignment. Moreover, the applicant contended that he had received ‘unfair treatment’, citing particular reference to four planning applications that were granted ‘boundary walls bordering the back gardens of residential development’ in an ‘adjacent or nearly adjacent sites’.
Rebutting, the case officer representing the Planning Authority observed that the applicants’ site formed part of ‘a series of six plots which are all similarly requesting the construction of a boundary wall extending beyond the schemed development boundary’. The officer pointed out to the Tribunal that all six requests were turned down by the Authority. As for the permissions quoted by the applicant, the case officer argued that these were characterized by different site contexts and were thus not relevant to the case in question. As a final point, the officer warned that the site in question was regulated by a planning control application having set clear conditions in terms of road alignments, height limitation and land use. Approving the development, the case officer warned, was in breach of these conditions.
Upon review of the facts before it, the Tribunal concluded that the applicant’s site was sandwiched between developments having a committed depth of 38 metres whereas in the applicant’s case, the proposed wall would extend by a further one metre (namely up to 39 metres). Given that the discrepancy between the committed plot depths was minimal the Tribunal concluded that approving the development would not result in adverse visual impacts. Against this background, the Tribunal upheld the appeal.