The Planning Authority upheld a request for the sanctioning of retractable glass panels located along the perimeter of an elevated roofed terrace fronting a catering establishment. The premises in question consists of an old building situated along the Birgu Waterfront.
Subsequently, the permit was appealed by a third party objector before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal. In his appeal submissions, the appellant expressed his grievances as follows:
1. In its decision, the Commission ignored allegations pointing to the ‘submission of fraudulent and incorrect information, declarations and plans’, hence tantamount to an error on the face of the record. To substantiate his allegations, appellant underlined that the approved drawings showed an existing canopy supported on four vertical posts, completely ‘detached’ from the stone facade, whereas the canopy structure was in reality affixed to the façade. Moreover, the drawings showed a timber structure when the structure ‘in situ’ was made of aluminum;
2. Applicant had blocked a 1.5 metre passageway which, according to the objector, had to be retained unobstructed;
3. Applicant had indicated that he was the sole owner of the said passageway when in actual fact he held no such title;
4. Applicant was the operator of the restaurant under a title of lease and was therefore expected to obtain prior consent from the bare owner;
5. The glass panels were visually obtrusive, resulting in ‘a negative and unacceptable visual impact on the facade of a historical building and on the Birgu waterfront’;
6. The Superintendent of Cultural Heritage had, in a previous application, imposed a number of conditions, which this time round have been disregarded.
In reply, the case officer representing the Authority counter argued that appellant’s concerns focused on ownership issues which fell outside the decision remit of the Planning Authority.
It was also maintained that, contrary to appellant’s assertions, the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage had expressed no concern with regard to the current application. On his part, applicant insisted that the submitted information was correct, adding that appellant ‘possessed no proprietary or real rights over the site in question’.
In its assessment, the Tribunal observed that it was prohibited to revoke a planning permit on the basis of alleged fraudulent or misleading information or incorrect ownership declarations. In addition, the Tribunal reminded the parties that planning permits are issued subject to saving third party rights. The Tribunal also confirmed that the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage had expressed no objection with regard to the current application – hence, any previous concerns carry no bearing. Against this background, the Tribunal held against appellant, confirming the validity of the permit.