The owner of a detached villa filed a summary planning application seeking permission to mount a wooden lattice in “the backyard area”.

The property in question is located within a designated villa area in Attard. The proposed designs showed a four-metre wooden lattice placed over and above an existing 2.3m masonry boundary wall separating applicant’s property from the villa next door.

Following assessment, the proposal was approved summarily by the chairperson of the Planning Commission since the said interventions were deemed to be in line with current policies.

The neighbour residing in the adjacent property filed an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, whereby he insisted that the above-mentioned permission should not have been granted. The objector alleged that the wooden lattice would block all possible natural lighting to the detriment of his property.

The objector went further to state that such interventions were not necessary since applicant already enjoyed sufficient privacy provided by the existing high trees in his property. Concluding, the neighbour highlighted that the proposal went against the spirit of policy P08 of the 2015 Planning & Design Guidance which states that “a balance should be struck between the requirements and inconveniences of two contiguous properties.”

In reply, the case officer representing the Planning Authority underlined that the wooden lattice was acceptable in terms of the relevant planning policies. Reference was made to Policy P8 of the 2015 Planning & Design Guidance, which policy allowed for the extension of existing, side and rear garden/yard walls up to 3.4m above ground-floor level provided that such walls do not border exposed edges or ODZ areas. Additionally, the PA could allow a lightweight screen to be mounted over and above the stipulated 3.4m provided that the employed materials were compatible with the character of the surroundings and the residential amenity of adjoining properties.

In this case, the proposed lattice was made up of wood “which blends well with the mixed designs of the different properties” whereas the natural light and ventilation insofar as the neighbour’s property was concerned were safeguarded.

In its assessment, the Tribunal observed that the objector had, at processing stage, alleged that the proposed interventions were in violation of Policy P8 in that the wall would adversely affect his property in terms of the restriction of natural light and ventilation.

This declaration, according to the Tribunal, was tantamount to a representation containing planning merits in terms of Regulation 18 (5) of LN162/16. Once a third-party representation had reached the Planning Authority during the application process, the chairperson of the PA planning board had no option but to refer the application to the executive chairperson for it to be formally processed according to the rules governing Full Development Applications.

Against this background, the Tribunal revoked the summary approval.