A planning application entitled “To carry out internal alterations and add dwelling unit” was turned down by the Environment and Planning Commission, even though the Planning Directorate went ahead with a favourable recommendation, insisting that the existing building was already committed with two floors over an underlying basement and “the proposed additions of two floors over the existing underlying basement at the rear of the site retained the existing profile of the approved building envelope”. 

The site lies within an ODZ Settlement in Xaghra, Gozo.

Nonetheless, the Commission concluded that the “proposal exceeds the height limitation for the area and runs counter to GZ-RLST-1 of the GCLP, which in turn sets the height of two floors without basement.”

Indeed, the submitted drawings show a proposed full floor at second floor level and additional new construction towards the rear of the plot.

As one would have expected, applicant appealed the Commission’s decision, describing his proposal as consisting of “alterations and additions to add a dwelling to an existing block of five apartments and garages.”

Applicant (now appellant) explained that the existing block is built on two floors plus semi basement as per an Appeals Board decision delivered in 1999. Applicant went on to argue that the proposal is a  “continuation of the development already approved in a previous application, forming part of this same block and perfectly respecting the same approved height of two floors and semi basement.”

Moreover, the applicant contended that “the proposed height will be in line with the heights of the surrounding buildings”, adding reference to  policy GCLP HTLM-1 (found in the Gozo and Comino Local Plan), which essentially acknowledges that “there are instances of buildings where the existing height is higher than that indicated by the relative Maps, and in which requests for development on the same area would be favourably considered.”

In its assessment, the Tribunal acknowledged that that the site in question lies within a category 1 ODZ settlement in Gozo. The Tribunal pointed out that paragraph 4.2.4 of policy GZ-RLST-1 which was quoted by the appellant in his application (and by virtue of which policy, buildings which are higher than what is stipulated in the Local Plans are permitted wherever the site is surrounded by similar commitment) does not find applicability in this particular case since the applicant’s property is not located within a schemed boundary.

Against this background, the Tribunal concluded that the proposed designs were not acceptable and only conceded to structural additions at second floor level with a limited floor area (not exceeding 36 square metres). On this basis, the Tribunal requested the applicant to submit fresh drawings in line with its decision.