A summary planning application for the  ‘proposed sanctioning of shopfront and existing signage and AC compressor box unit within front terrace’  in relation to a small office located in Tower Street (Sliema) was submitted to the Planning Authority for assessment and eventual decision. In his application, applicant declared that he was the sole owner of the said premises.

Subsequently, the Authority received a letter from a third party alleging that applicant had submitted a false declaration since he (applicant) did not own the premises, following which applicant’s architect was  informed about the matter.

On the merits, the Directorate highlighted that ‘the existing shop front fascia and sign proposed for sanctioning were not considered to compromise the present context and degree of activity of the streetscape despite the bold appearance’. As a result, the Planning Directorate felt that the proposal was thus in line with good practice guidance G36 and G39 of the Development Control Design Policy, Guidance and Standards 2015 (DC15).

For its part, the Planning Commission agreed to the said recommendation and proceeded to issue permission insofar as the development indicated on the approved drawings was concerned. The Commission, however, agreed not to sanction any other illegal development that may exist on the site or was not shown in the approved drawings. More so, it was highlighted that if a matter was not specified by the architect, the conditions of the permission and provisions of DC15 would in that case apply. Applicant was also reminded to submit a commencement notice, through his perit,  at least five days prior to the utilisation of the permission, failure which the said permission would be considered as never having been utilised. In addition, the premises were to be equipped with the relative safety measures in adherence with local fire safety regulations. Finally, the Commission maintained that  applicant was required ‘to obtain the consent of the land/building owner prior to carrying out the development’.

Following issuance of permission, applicant decided to communicate with the owner of the premises (the lessor), stating that he had obtained planning permission. With this communication in hand, the owner filed an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, reiterating that applicant had falsely declared that he was the owner of the premises and permission should be consequently revoked.

In its assessment, the Tribunal took cognizance of the contents in the application form and held that applicant, by his own later admission, had made a false declaration when stating that he was the sole owner of the premises. Against this background, the Tribunal concluded that the permit should be revoked.