A development application for the construction of a lift structure and two levels of apartments overlying third party property was approved by the Environment and Planning Commission. The case officer maintained that the proposal was in line with the land-Use Zoning Conditions and Height limitations of the area. (The building is situated in Triq ir-Rihan, Fgura.)

Essentially, the permit drawings show the proposed addition of residential units at second floor and overlying penthouse level. The street is almost level and the proposed building height is equivalent to 11.8 metres above the lowest finished pavement level, thus within the 12 metre height limitation stipulated in the relative Local Plan.

Furthermore, the case officer observed that the residential units feature “adequate outlook”, thus enjoying sufficient natural light levels. The drawings also feature the introduction of a lift shaft with a view to facilitate access to the proposed floors, the design of which was deemed acceptable since the structure is adequately receded from both the building line and the rear façade.

Following the issue of the permit, the owners of the underlying dwelling filed an appeal against the permit before the Environment and Planning Tribunal. Appellants contended that the permit should be revoked since the proposed lift shaft would be supported by the roof of one of their bedrooms, as a result of which they would be subjected to undue noise and vibrations, particularly at night.

Appellants maintained that the Authority may not simply state that the permit was issued “subject to third party civil rights” and ignore the provisions of Structure Plan Policy BEN 1 (which states that ‘development will not normally be permitted if the proposal is likely to have a deleterious impact on existing or planned adjacent uses because of visual intrusion, noise, vibration, atmospheric pollution, unusually high traffic generation, unusual operating times or any other characteristic which in the opinion of MEPA would constitute bad neighbourliness’.)

On its part, the MEPA reiterated that the proposal was in line with current planning policies and requested the Tribunal to dismiss the appeal.

In its assessment, the Tribunal observed that the objectors failed to submit any documentary evidence to show that the proposed lift would generate unacceptable noise levels as alleged.

More so, the Tribunal observed that the lift system would employ a series of shock absorbers to contain the noise. The Tribunal also noted that, eventually, a compliance certificate would only be issued subject to an engineer’s report. Against this background, the Tribunal concluded that the permit should stand.