The Malta Environment and Planning Authority refused a planning application contemplating the demolition of an existing building followed by the construction of a new one. The Authority’s commission had held that access to the site was only possible via a restricted passageway situated off an alley in Mistra Road, St Paul’s Bay.
Aggrieved by the decision, the applicant filed an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the Authority’s decision should be reversed. The applicant argued that the site was already ‘physically’ committed.
The Tribunal, however, rejected the appeal after it considered that the applicant’s proposal was deemed to be an internal development. In point of fact, the Tribunal made specific reference to policy 3.8 of the 2005 Policy and Design Guidance, being the policy ‘in vigore’ when the appealed decision was taken by the Authority.
According to policy 3.8, the following design parameters were to be satisfied for the Authority to uphold proposals for internal developments:
- The highway network in the area, and in particular the approach road(s) to the site should be capable of accommodating the traffic likely to be generated by the development safely and conveniently. In particular, approach roads should not be less than 4.1 metres wide;
- An adequate means of vehicular and pedestrian access to the site should be also provided from an adjoining street – once again, having a minimum access width of 4.1 metres together with a turning space to enable vehicles to enter and leave the site in a forward gear;
- The submitted designs should be in keeping with the character of the area and in accordance with the zoning of the site in terms of the type of dwelling unit permitted, the height and the other applicable criteria;
- An effort should be made on the part of the perit to ensure that the proposed development is compatible in height, scale, design and form with adjoining property;
- A satisfactory layout and building form having an adequate outlook, particularly with regard to the windows of the main habitable rooms, is a prerequisite;
- Adequate separation between buildings to provide privacy is a must;
- A minimum distance of at least six metres separation between buildings should be retained whereas at least three metres separation where buildings adjoin the backyards of adjacent buildings should be provided;
- Where there is an existing party wall adjoining the site, such a party wall should not remain exposed;
- The height of party walls of the new development should not exceed the height limitation for the area;
- Satisfactory access arrangements for service (refuse collection etc.) and emergency vehicles are compulsory;
- At least 20% of the site needs to remain as a public open space in the form of open space between buildings, including piazzas or other public spaces and/or play areas;
- It must be shown that the site can be adequately provided with the necessary infrastructure services;
- A satisfactory proposal for the maintenance of common areas, landscaping and utility services should accompany the proposal;
All parking provision should be underground and the open space at ground floor level should be a pedestrian space.
In this case under review, it was immediately clear to the Tribunal that the width of the approach road was three metres, hence way below the minimum required by policy 3.8 (namely 4.1 metres). Based on this assessment, the Tribunal felt that there was no point in delving further into the merits of the proposal and the Authority’s decision was consequently confirmed.