This year has not been short of drama in the built environment department. What with the approval of high-rise buildings resulting in public outcry, people taking to the streets to protest against the over-development of Sliema, and the mourning of the impending loss of an architectural and urban art gem. It has felt like no one is really looking after the heritage of our environment.
Enter: Irrestawra Darek (Restore Your Home). A new scheme announced in this year’s budget and launched this week by the Planning Authority to help home owners foot the bill for their restoration costs. Although this doesn’t detract from the aforementioned problems, it is finally a step in the right direction, and hopefully the start of more to come.
The scheme’s overriding aim is to encourage the regeneration of Malta’s village core areas. This will happen through the promotion of investment in the restoration, conservation and maintenance of privately owned residential properties located within Urban Conservation Areas (UCAs) and Grade 1 and Grade 2 scheduled buildings.
Here’s a breakdown of the most important things you might want to ask about the scheme.
1. Who can apply?
- First time private buyers of residential Grade 1 and Grade 2* scheduled buildings can apply for a rebate
- First time private buyers of an old residence located within Urban Conservation Areas (UCAs)
- Private owners of residences, located within a UCA who wish to carry out restoration and maintenance works on the facade of their old property
*Grade 1 buildings are of exceptional architectural merit and interest, whilst Grade 2 buildings are particularly important buildings of a similar nature. Basically these are buildings that need the most protection because they’re damn beautiful.
2. How much financial aid will home owners get?
- First time private buyers of residential Grade 1 and Grade 2 scheduled buildings may apply for a rebate on 70% of up to a maximum of €100,000
- First time private buyers of an old residence located within UCAs may apply for a rebate of up to a maximum of €10,000.
- Private owners of residences, located within UCAs, who wish to carry out restoration and maintenance works on the facade of their old property may apply for a grant of 70% of the works, up to a maximum of €10,000.
- For Grade 1 and Grade 2 scheduled buildings, the grant scheme will provide a rebate of up to a maximum of €100,000.
3. Does the scheme offer any kind of consultation services?
Not directly, but the Planning Authority have worked with the Local Council Association for all local councils to engage the professional services of a conservation architect within their locality. The Authority has also agreed a capping and will reimburse the local council for fees they incur to assist residents in the submission of a planning application related to this scheme. Plus, the Local Council Association has also agreed to waive any fees for scaffolding related to restoration works for a 3-month period.
4. When can I apply?
16th January 2017 – that’s when the application form and guidelines will be made available.
5. Is there a minimum number of people who can apply?
Yes. The scheme has a pot of €8 million with which it can help people. It works on a first come first served basis up until 30th April 2017. Restoration projects must have a planning permit and have to commence after 1st January 2017. And you’ve got to have all your fiscal receipts. So you better get your paperwork sorted over Christmas.
And now for some beautifully restored homes that will inspire you to strike this helpful initiative while it’s hot: