The site in question falls within an area designated for residential use. Despite there should have been no objection to the proposed use, at least by way of principle, the Planning Commission rejected the proposal since the development ran counter to the provisions of policy P35 of the Development Control Design Policy, Guidance and Standards 2015.
The Commission underlined that ‘the obligatory one-metre parapet wall above the setback floor level’ (that is to say the opramorta surrounding the roof of the stores in question) was not provided.
The said parapet wall is considered necessary to screen any services placed directly on the roof such as solar water panels and water tanks.
As a result, the Commission observed that that the proposal was in breach of Urban Objective 3 of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development which aims to protect and enhance the character and amenity of urban areas.
In response, applicant lodged an appeal against the aforesaid decision before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, highlighting various instances where a permit was issued for a building complex despite not having a one-metre parapet wall surrounding the topmost floor.
Even so, applicant (now, appellant) contended that the original permit was subsequently amended through a minor application by way of which the height of the ‘store’ was increased to 2.6 metres to meet sanitary standards.
The Authority however rebutted by saying that applicant was trying to mislead the Tribunal.
The case officer representing the Authority pointed out that the stores which applicant was intent on converting into a residence were approved with a clear internal height of 2.37 metres with an overlying one-metre opramorta when measured from top of the slab.
The officer acknowledged that the original permit was amended, adding however that applicant was wrong to assert that permission was obtained to amend the said clear height.
In its assessment, the Tribunal analysed the arguments brought forward by both parties.
In particular, the Tribunal observed that the original permit was amended through a second application.
Nevertheless, the Tribunal noted that the stores which applicant was intent to turn into a dwelling were not colour coded so as to indicate that a change in height was taking place.
In turn, the Tribunal concluded that the Authority was correct to assume that the store had a clear height of 2.37 metres as held in the original pemit, thus failing to meet the minimum clear height requirements for dwellings.
Against this background, the Tribunal confirmed the Authority’s decision to reject permission.