A development application contemplating the change of use of an empty premises to a car showroom was issued subject to applicant abiding with two specific conditions. First, applicant was ordered to effect a payment to the amount of €1,305 since the proposed ‘change of use’ had already taken place. Secondly, applicant was required to remove an external sign, having been installed without a permit, within a stipulated time frame.

The applicant nonetheless failed to comply with these conditions and the application was subsequently dismissed by the Planning Authority on 27 September, 2016.

In reaction, the applicant decided to appeal the Authority’s decision before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal. In his appeal, the applicant pointed out that he was made to pay the fine by not later than 27 September, 2016. He went on to highlight that the payment was duly effected within the set period. Indeed, the applicant produced a receipt to show that such payment was made on 27 September, 2016. Moreover, the applicant submitted photographic evidence to show that the illegal sign was removed as previously instructed.

In reply, the Authority contended that the Planning Commission had initially requested the applicant to remove the illegal sign and effect a payment of €1,305. Subsequently, the applicant had submitted a reconsideration request, insisting that the said amount was ‘exaggerated’. The Commission met on 13 September, 2016 and yet concluded that the requested amount was deemed  reasonable.

The Commission scheduled a sitting for 27 September, 2016 in order for the applicant to state whether he had effected such payment. Nevertheless, the applicant failed to turn up before the Commission on the said date and the application was consequently dismissed. Concluding, the Authority held that once the application was dismissed, it was not possible to ‘revive’ the process.

In its assessment, the Tribunal observed that the applicant had produced a copy of receipt to show that payment was indeed made on 27 September, 2016 (incidentally, on the same day when the Commission had dismissed the application). Moreover, the Tribunal noted that the illegal sign was removed. Regardless of the fact that the applicant had failed to furnish a copy of the payment receipt during the meeting held on 27 September, 2017, the Tribunal felt that there was no reason as to why the permit should not be issued. Against that background, the Authority was ordered to issue the permit.