MaltaToday | 06 April 2008 | ‘Nothing unusual’ in omission of controversial Balzan DCC statement

NEWS | Sunday, 06 April 2008

‘Nothing unusual’ in omission of controversial Balzan DCC statement

James Debono

A controversial statement by the Development Control Commission, claiming the development of a 43-apartment block in Balzan’s characteristic gardens in Triq il-Kbira was “compatible with the local plan”, was only removed from the MEPA website’s planning details “because of an automatic computer generated change in planning details”, a spokesperson told MaltaToday.
The statement by the former DCC board, which resigned in the wake of the auditor’s report on Charles Polidano’s application for a supermarket in Safi, was deemed controversial because it would have set a precedent allowing for more development inside characteristic gardens such as those in Balzan, but also in the Lija, Birkirkara and Attard areas.
The 43-unit apartment block is also a project of construction magnate Polidano.
Last week, MaltaToday revealed the reference to this decision was removed from the planning details of the case following the DCC board’s resignation in February.
The Central Malta Local Plan precludes the building of new dwelling units in characteristic gardens in the Attard, Lija and Balzan area, clearly stating that “MEPA will not consider any development or redevelopment which create new independent residential and non residential units, including garages” in these open space enclaves.
The sole exception is for development which puts dilapidated and unused buildings back in to use. But the local plan states clearly that any new buildings should be physically attached to the main existing building.

Nothing unusual
MEPA is however claiming there is nothing unusual in the removal of the controversial DCC decision from the case details on its website.
“The procedure for all applications that appear on the MEPA website is that the current status of the application is indicated. Once there is a file movement as was the case with this application, from the DCC back to the Case Officer, there was an automatic computer-generated change in the planning details appearing in the website,” a MEPA spokesperson said.
Yet in this case not even a date is given for the next DCC meeting. The current version of planning details in the MEPA website simply states the case officer’s recommendation to refuse the permit has now been forwarded to the DCC for a decision.
This was exactly the same situation before the DCC board issued its controversial ruling. The only reference to the previous board’s decision is now found in the case officer’s report, which is only available against payment.
The most recent DCC meeting on this case took place in July 2007 when the case was deferred after the board deemed the development compatible with the local plan and urged Planning Directorate to trash its differences out with the developers.

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