A planning application entitled “Demolition of existing dwelling and construction of garage and three overlying apartments” in Xghajra was approved by MEPA’s Planning Commission.
The notice of application was published on 12 October, 2013. The decision was eventually taken on 30 April, 2014 and a notice of the decision was published in a local newspaper on 24 May, 2014 as required by law.
A third party objector lodged an appeal before the Environment and Planning Tribunal within the stipulated time frame (30 days from publication of decision), stating that the permit should not have been issued since the development features a number of balconies projecting onto an alley which is only 10 feet wide.
Moreover, the appellant pointed out that a similar application was turned down in the 1990s after the then Planning Area Permits Board (PAPB) held that “according to the scheme the site in question is not a corner one and therefore the request cannot be acceded to”.
But even so, the objector alleged that the application contained false information in that the applicant declared that he is the owner of the alley when in fact, the objector is himself a co-owner. As a final point, the objector alleged that the site notice was removed from site.
In reaction, the applicant submitted that the objector had failed to submit his written objections within the stipulated 20-day period from the date on which the application is published in a newspaper as required by Article 41 (1) (c) (i) of Chapter 504 of the Laws of Malta.
The applicant made express reference to a number of Tribunal decisions (namely, ‘Paul Attard kontra l-Awtorita ta’ Malta dwar I-Ambjent u I-Ippjanar u l-kjamata in kawza Pamela Tanti’ (Appell Numru 8/13 CF – PA4612/10), ‘George Cremona u Dr. Monica Vella kontra l-Awtorita ta’ Malta dwar l-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar u l-kjamat in kawza l-applikanti and Stephanie Dempsey’(Appell Numru 332/12 CF – PA 720/12) where it was held that an objector may not appeal a planning decision if the objector fails to submit written objections within 20 days from the notice of application.
In its assessment, the Tribunal made reference to a decision in the names of Michael Parnis vs Awtorita ta’ Malta dwar l-Ambjent (decided in April 2013), where the Civil Court in its inferior jurisdiction stressed that time periods within which an applicant may resort to file a legal action are of a peremptory nature and there is no way that the Court can find in favour of an appellant whose submissions do not reach the Tribunal in time.
By the same logic, the Tribunal held that the objector in this case did not enjoy a locus standi since he had failed to submit his written objections within the stipulated 20-day period from the date of publication in the newspaper. Against this background, the appeal was rejected and the permit remains valid.