An applicant had his planning application “to construct agricultural store, field periphery wall, introduce landscaping and fixing of timber gate’ rejected by the Planning Commission after the latter found that applicant was already in possession of other storage rooms registered on his name. From this, it followed that the proposal exceeded the maximum storage entitlement as specified by criterion 6 of Policy 2.5A of the Rural Policy & Design Guidance (RPDG) 2014.

It was also pointed out that the submitted drawings showed a sanitary facility room which, according to the Commission, was not considered compatible with rural development.

The Commission further held that the proposal was in breach of Thematic Objective 1.10 and Rural Objective 3 of the Strategic Plan for Environment & Development (SPED) ‘which only allows for rural development which is legitimate or necessary.’

In furtherance to the said decision, applicant took his case before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal. In his appeal submissions, applicant contended that he was not in possession of other rooms as previously alleged. Applicant, now appellant, pointed out that the ‘the roofless rural rooms mentioned by the case officer’ were not his.  Applicant explained that, despite having 22 tumoli of agricultural land registered on his name, he was only in possession of a 16-square-metre room, which he shared with other farmers.  Applicant referred to policy 2.5A of the Rural Policy and Design Guidance, 2014, maintaining that he was entitled to a 40-square-metre storage.

Applicant went on to state that both the Agriculture Department and the Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC) had found no objection to the proposed sanitary room. Concluding, appellant advocated the argument that farming facilities may include storage of farm machinery, agricultural equipment, and inputs, produce, grading, cold storage, health and safety as well as sanitary facilities.

In reply, the Planning Authority reiterated that a number of storage rooms were physically detected within his holdings.  The Authority thus held that applicant should not be eligible to additional storage facilities as there were other rooms within his land precincts. The Authority rejected applicant’s argument that he was not the owner of the said rooms, warning that ‘one could end up with the untenable situation where an owner of a given tract of arable land would dispose of his agricultural rooms to third parties thereby clearing the way to build a new agricultural store on the basis that he is no longer the owner of the rooms on his holdings’.

In its assessment the Tribunal confirmed that applicant had a room measuring 16-square-metres registered on his name and which he claimed to share with third parties. Otherwise, the Tribunal observed that no rooms were located within land registered on his name.  The Tribunal considered that applicant should be granted a storage room measuring 20-square-metres given that he had 20 tumoli of agricultural land officially registered on his name. The Tribunal also agreed that sanitary facilities were acceptable under current rural policies.