At issue was a planning application for the construction of a rabbit farm having a footprint of circa 190sq.m and a height of 4 metres. The proposed drawings showed two rabbit units, an office, a food store, a kitchenette, a manure clamp and a generator room.

A 0.5 metre passage was also to be provided along the periphery of the building.   

According to applicant, the farm would accommodate 55 female breeding rabbits.

Applicant further submitted that, at the moment, he was ‘helping out in running of a registered rabbit farm to gain experience’.

Moreover, a declaration by the owner of a rabbit slaughterhouse was submitted in order to pinpoint the location where ‘applicant’s produce’ would be eventually slaughtered.

Applicant’s site was located outside the development zone of Zebbug. As expected, the case officer immediately observed that the site formed part of an Area of Agricultural Value as designated in the North West Local Plan (NWLP).

The case officer also held that by way of principle, no development was to be carried out in this area unless the proposed interventions were incompatible with urban uses and no alternative solutions were available.

Having said all this, any development in rural areas should be located away from protected areas and areas of high landscape sensitivity.

Preferred locations include Areas of Containment or previously developed land or existing buildings.

However so, the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA) noted that the proposal was exempt from the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.

After noting that ground disturbance in this area could uncover cultural heritage features that may necessitate amendments to the proposed drawings, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage did not object to the proposed development if works were to be archaeologically monitored.

On its part the Agriculture Advisory Committee (AAC) noted that the proposed waste management layout was in conformity with the current regulations (in this case, Subsidiary Legislation 549.66).

Moreover, the AAC raised no concern with regard to the take-up of agricultural land. Even so, the AAC was, however, not convinced that applicant had sufficient technical knowledge or experience in the sector.

Nevertheless, applicant submitted further information at a later stage to show his genuine intentions, following which the AAC withdrew its previous objections.

On the basis of these latest developments and after having seen that the interventions were to be visually screened, the Planning Commission gave its approval to the proposed development.