Unbridled construction, bulldozers flattening your neighbourhood beyond recognition, congestion caused by some five different cranes parked in your street… seemingly forever. That’s the face of Malta today as the Planning Authority (formerly known as MEPA) dishes out permits at a much faster rate than Serkin serves pastizzi.
Is there anything you can do to stem the tide? Of course there is. Timely intervention, timely objections and appeals can all help. So here’s a guide to getting around the plannig maze.
1. You see an ominous green notice nailed to a building, a tree or anywhere in the vicinity saying the following:
This is a notice indicating that someone has filed a development application. You are still in time to do something about it. Take note of the PA number and log into the E-Apps system to see what it’s all about. Alternatively you can get your friendly architect to do this for you. If you think that the development isn’t such a good idea, you can object by sending in an objection on [email protected] or by post. These should be on planning grounds. But whatever it is – even if you have any doubts, just send in an email to the Planning Authority saying the following:
“PA Number ______________
I the undersigned (Name and address and ID Number) would like to register my interest to make representations and to be present during any hearings and to be informed of all future developments in this case”
This is important because this makes you a registered third party and only registered third parties have a right to appeal.
2. Which brings us neatly to another part of the planning stage. What happens if a permit has been granted anyway – despite all your objections?
Well, you can file an appeal before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal which is a three-person board responsible for deciding appeals. Here are some important things to keep in mind:
– The appeal has to be filed within 30 days of publication of the decision in the Government Gazette.
– It must be accompanied by the appeal fee, which is 5% of the fee originally paid by applicant. There is a minimum fee of €150 and it is capped at €3,500 together with a €50 administration fee.
– Pick up appeal fee forms from PA and deposit money in bank account specified in forms. You get the yellow copy of the form stamped by the bank and file with your appeal.
– Appeal must be delivered by hand at the EPRT offices in Floriana – down the road from the PA.
– If this sounds like Greek to you don’t worry – phone up your environmentally-friendly lawyer and architect and get them to file the appeal themselves.
3. Another development trauma. You see what you think is unauthorised development going on. What to do?
Email the enforcement section at the PA’s [email protected] with details or/and pictures of the next 70 storey tower being erected in your 2 metre by 2 metre front garden. This may not immediately bring the full force of the law down upon the evil developer, but you should persist with constant emails and reminders until pester-power and a groaning inbox sends the PA enforcement officers out on the hunt.
4. This over-development and PA mayhem is just so depressing and you are feeling overwhelmed and distraught. What to do?
Never ever give in. At one point even Sandro Chetcuti is going to be lounging on his leopard-print cushions from the verandah of his millionth maisonette and realise that the concrete gray miasma developers have created is fugly. He’s going to long for some natural beauty – for some space. That’s when he’ll jump on to his Wrecking Ball – hopefully not to recreate the Miley Cyrus video – but to demolish the vileness.
Ok – enough visuals – but seriously – the tide is going to turn some day. People are going to realise that a beautiful, uncrowded, unpolluted environment is better than what we have now. Till then, we have to try and appreciate what we have and conserve it. Meet or join one of the several environmental NGOS raising environmental awareness and battling building abuse. Don’t curse the darkness, light a candle. We’ll get there.