A development planning application seeking permission for a shooting academy was assessed by the Planning Commission. Applicant further sought to sanction a building which was constructed illegally with the intent to use as lecture rooms. In addition, the proposal contemplates the placing of rubber tyres along the periphery. The site consists of a field located in an area known as Ta’ Hax-Xluq in the limits of Siggiewi. Following assessment, the proposal was turned down for the following reasons:
1. First and foremost, the site featured an area paved with franka stone without prior authorisation;
2. The proposed sanctioning of the existing buildings and the use of a shooting academy ran counter to the provisions of policies NWRS3&4 of the North West Local Plan which specifies that development within a Category 3 ODZ Settlement may only be used for residential, agricultural, retail and tourism purposes and subject to eligibility criteria;
3. The proposal ran counter to the SPED objectives which aim to protect and enhance the character of rural areas;
4. The placement of tyres along the site periphery would ruin the landscape;
5. The proposal was in breach of Rural Objectives 1, 3, and 4 which aim to facilitate sustainable rural development by controlling the location and design of rural development, as well as the cumulative effect of such development.
In reaction, applicant filed an appeal with the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that permission should have been granted. Applicant, now appellant, explained his intentions ‘to set up a school in the art of shooting’. For this reason, applicant contended that having ‘a premises whereby to conduct the lectures’ was imperative. Insofar as the unauthorised paving was concerned, applicant maintained that safe access was to be provided. Appellant pointed out that limestone was compatible with the rural setting, adding that the slabs were to be laid directly on soil and without cement bedding. Applicant argued that he was a professional instructor and the whole idea was to ‘organise and bring over to Malta groups of enthusiasts to learn the art of arms handling and shooting in the various disciplines’. Finally, it was contended that a shooting academy falls within the remit of Category 3 ODZ settlement regulations.
In reply, the case officer maintained that appellant’s statements highlighting that ‘franka paving around the building was done from a compatible material within the rural setting’ were irrelevant. The Tribunal was also reminded that according to the Local Plan, no new buildings were allowed to be built in Category 3 ODZ settlements.
In its assessment, the Tribunal fully acknowledged that appellant’s site was located in a Category 3 Settlement. Having said that, the Tribunal observed that Policy NWRS 4 of the Local Plan expressly provides that “new development, which takes up fresh land, notwithstanding the location of the site in relation to existing buildings, will not be permitted”. On that basis, the Tribunal rejected the appeal.