In his application form, the architect highlighted that the existing façade as well as the hallway and stairs would be retained.
The application was subsequently given the green light by the Planning Commission notwithstanding there being a handful of objections from nearby residents.
As would have been expected, the third party objectors lodged a strongly worded appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the permit should be revoked.
In their appeal application, appellants said that the approved plans omit any reference to the their property which adjoined the site in question.
It was maintained that a common well was shown without the architect having verified its extent. The objectors added that they had commissioned a surveyor to retrieve the dimensions and found that the well was significantly larger than what was shown in the approved plans.
To this end, the objectors contended that the approved plans contained fraudulent information. Furthermore, appellants highlighted that excavation works were going to take effect within the statutory 76 cm distance from the face of the party wall, hence in violation of the Civil Code.
Finally, appellants contended that the proposed envelope was not adequately receded from their property, giving rise to loss of privacy as well as reduced levels of light and ventilation.
In reply, the Authority stood firm with its decision to issue the permit. Insofar as the well, the Authority held that ‘it remains the responsibility of the architect that shows the well correctly.’
As to the yards, the Authority noted that the standard distances could be done away with due to the fact that the applicant’s site was restricted (the plot depth was less than 15 metres). Concluding, the Authority noted that there were no sound planning justifications to justify permit dismissal.
In its assessment, the Tribunal tackled the objector’s arguments individually.
As to the proposed excavation works not being in line with the civil code stipulations, the Tribunal held that it held no jurisdiction to decide such a matter.
The parties were reminded that such issues were to be resolved before a civil court.
With regard to the underground cistern, the Tribunal observed that the applicant’s architect had made a written declaration to the effect that he ‘does not intend to carry out any works that will affect the integrity of the well and its current size’.
Nevertheless, the Tribunal was not satisfied with such a declaration and held that no excavation works should be carried out towards the rear of the plot.
In relation to the ‘small yards’, the Tribunal made express reference to Guideline G21 (DC15) which states that ‘all developments should aim to provide a positive spatial contribution to their context in the definition and enclosure of existing space’.
The implications of this provision were aimed at ensuring that the development of gardens and backyards does not lead to the loss of amenity space, particularly within UCAs. The Tribunal observed that, in this case, the Authority had no regard to aforementioned provision.
Concluding, the Tribunal underlined that that it was not enough for the Authority to comply with sanitary laws. Against this background, the Tribunal ordered the Authority to reassess the application in light of the aforesaid.