A planning application for the raising of a parapet wall on the roof of an ODZ farmhouse was submitted to the then Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) for a decision.

This application was submitted following a judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal. But even so, the Authority refused the applicant’s request, citing environment-related reasons. Indeed, the dwelling in question is situated in a very exposed location on Dingli Cliffs.

In its refusal report, the Authority’s Commission highlighted that the proposed parapet wall is located within a scheduled Area of Ecological Importance, Area of High landscape Value, a Special Protection Area and a Special Area of Conservation. It was further held that the proposal runs counter to the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED) and Policy 1.2H of the Rural Policy, which expressly provides that “structures which would adversely affect the scenic value, character and integrity of the landscape or the setting of coastal cliffs, will not be permitted.”

Subsequently, the applicant lodged an appeal against the Commission’s decision before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that his application was “generated by a Court of Appeal decision” which had directed the applicant “to carry out the proposed works in the default of the accused not doing so within the time limit set by the Courts.”

The applicant maintained that the Authority had no right to “confront a judgement of the highest institution on the Island.” Concluding, the applicant requested the Tribunal to overrule the Authority’s decision.

In reply, the case officer reiterated that the dwelling in question is located in a very sensitive area, as a result of which the proposed wall “would create an adverse visual impact” since “it detracts from the scenic value of the landscape and the coastal cliffs.” The case officer further explained that the wall in question lies along the division line which separates the applicant’s site from his neighbour’s property. Moreover, the case officer observed that the Court judgment quoted by the applicant was no longer relevant since the decision was given in the light of a planning permission which had since been revoked.

In its assessment, the Tribunal observed that the dwelling in question is located in a very sensitive site, adding that the applicant’s proposal would result in the creation of an exposed high blank party wall. The Tribunal referred to a similar request relative to a roof in Valletta, which application was also rejected on similar grounds. The Tribunal maintained that a distinction should be made between between civil and planning issues, adding that privacy could still be attained in this case without the need to create a blank party wall. Against this background, the Tribunal confirmed the Authority’s decision.