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MaltaToday 10 May 2023 MIDWEEK

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NEWS 5 maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 10 MAY 2023 JAMES DEBONO A recently-announced scheme from the Planning Authority that will reguralise illegal devel- opments in areas that are part- ly outside the building zones (ODZ), will not be limited to dwellings, but apply also to commercial developments. This means that commercial establishments located in the development zone but which contain illegalities spreading in their ODZ grounds, can apply to regularise their position. BUT the illegalities in ques- tion must be located within the boundaries of a fully permitted building and must predate 2016, as confirmed in aerial photos. FOR example, a catering estab- lishment in the development zone will be able to apply to regularise structures built with- out a permit in ODZ areas, but only within the boundaries of the establishment as established in an official permit. "Irregu- larities that go beyond the plot of land covered with a permit cannot benefit from this regu- larisation," a PA spokesperson clarified. Moreover the presentation of the official permit originally is- sued is compulsory, because site plans included in planning per- mits are crucial in determining the extent of the grounds cov- ered by a property. This also means that illegal- ly-developed structures in prop- erties which are entirely ODZ, cannot be regularised. Neither can the PA regularise devel- opments that have spread into neighbouring ODZ plots. And nor can the PA regularise such structures if they form part of an entirely illegal complex. Still, the legal notice does envis- age the regularisation of illegal- ities on extremely large proper- ties. In fact the tariffs to be paid to regularise roofed structures like gazebos and tool sheds range from €450 for properties with an ODZ area of 25sq.m, up to €1.2 million for proper- ties with an ODZ area of over 10,000sq.m. Regularising unroofed devel- opment like pools and paved areas will range from €400 for properties with an ODZ area of less than 25sq.m to €989,000 for properties with an ODZ area of over 10,000sq.m. The tariffs do not reflect the size of the illegality but the to- tal area in the property which is ODZ. It remains unclear wheth- er pre-1967 properties, which predate any planning institu- tion, will be eligible, since the legality of these properties was established by the PA's rural policy, yet they still lack an of- ficial permit delineating the ex- tent of their grounds. And many pre-1992 properties tend to lack site-plans clearly identifying the land parcel on which the devel- opment was permitted. Irrespective of whether a devel- opment is commercial or res- idential, the PA regularisation board, currently chaired by Eliz- abeth Ellul, can still refuse the permit if it is deemed to create an "injury to amenity". The legal notice gives a broad definition to injury to amenity which in- cludes any development which jeopardises "the comfort, con- venience, safety, security and utility that may be enjoyed within, and around, a property or neighbourhood". Decision-makers will therefore be required to take into consid- eration privacy distances and safety. "Given the wide defini- tion of injury to amenity, the au- thority may consult any authori- ty on a case-by-case basis" when it is assessing these applications, a PA spokesperson said. Applications for the regularisa- tion of partly ODZ properties will not be published separate- ly on the Planning Authority website as happens with full de- velopment applications in the ODZ, which are published on a separate list every Wednesday. But applications for the regular- isation of partly ODZ properties are published on the DOI web- site by locality. Commercial illegalities to benefit in latest Planning Authority amnesty Commercial developments will benefit from PA regularisation of illegalities in 'partly ODZ' areas if originally covered by permit

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