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NEWS | Wednesday, 04 February 2009

MEPA investigates stables turned into farmhouses

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority is investigating 21 permits issued for horse stables outside development zones, amid reports that these have been converted into farmhouses.
“An investigation is underway to ensure that these buildings are not used for any other purpose than that established by the permit,” Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, who is responsible for MEPA, said in parliament last week in reply to a parliamentary question by Leo Brincat.
Since the keeping of horses is not an agricultural activity, the erection of stables for horses was not considered a legitimate form of new development in the countryside by the Structure Plan.
But the policy and design guidelines for agriculture, farm diversification and stables endorsed by former Environment Minister George Pullicino in December 2007 have facilitated applications for such ODZ development.
According to these guidelines, permission may be granted for the rehabilitation, conversion or change of use of any existing abandoned building, particularly an abandoned livestock farm building, for the stabling of horses. Before issuing any such permit, MEPA has to ensure that a number of criteria are satisfied.
The Authority may also grant permission for a 25% extension of the footprint of these abandoned buildings. Permission can even be granted for the construction of new ODZ stables, if they are limited to a minimum of four stable rooms.
Any such development must be located within 300 metres from the development zone boundary and at least 100 metres away from adjacent dwellings.


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