A planning application contemplating the sanctioning of the construction of a random rubble boundary wall including fixing of timber gate, was turned down by the Environment and Planning Commission. The said wall borders an agricultural tenement outside the development zone of Bahrija. In order to justify its decision, the Commission cited a number of reasons.
Primarily, the proposed sanctioning was not considered essential to the genuine needs of agriculture because the site was not characterised by agricultural land. Consequently, the proposal was deemed to run counter to Structure Plan policy AHF 5, which specifies that “only buildings and structures essential to agriculture will be permitted in the countryside.”
In fact, the site was characterised by garigue land, where, according to the PA, no human intervention is permitted. Moreover, the site in question was found to be located within a buffer bone for Archaeological Importance. The Commission thus insisted that the employed interventions (in building the boundary wall) could have an impact on “the character, integrity and value of features of cultural heritage importance.”
Finally, it was held that the employed construction methodology was not of the traditional type.
In reaction, applicant filed an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the Department of Agriculture never objected to his proposal. Applicant, now appellant, argued that most of the site was already covered with soil and went further to point out that he was “willing to deposit a bank guarantee to safeguard the site from an archaeological point of view.”
The case officer however held that the application was a third attempt to sanction an illegal development. The officer reminded the Tribunal that applicant’s site was located in an area scheduled as a Class A Buffer Zone for Archaeological Importance.
It was further reiterated that the boundary walls failed to respect the topography of the site and the surrounding area and were hence considered not to be consistent and compatible with the characteristics of the site and the immediate surroundings. Finally, the officer pointed out that the site was characterised by cart-ruts, tombs and irrigation channels, whilst adding that the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage was concerned with the proposal.
In its assessment, the Tribunal observed that, as held by the Authority, the site in question was located in an area of extraordinary archaeological importance.
Moreover, the Tribunal considered that the rubble walls served no agricultural purpose since the land was not cultivated.
Against this background, the Commission’s decision was found to be correct and the appeal was consequently rejected.