6,165 applications to regularise planning illegalities since 2016

The controversial amnesty on building irregularities has raised over €14 million, the Planning Authority said.

The planning amnesty, which enables the Planning Authority to regularise illegal developments against the payment of a ‘fee’, was rolled out in August 2016 and since then the authority has received 6,165 completed applications.

In comments to The Shift News, a PA spokesperson said “from these applications the Authority raised just over €14M,” adding that “the funds raised do not remain in the coffers of the Authority but fund the popular ‘Irrestawra Darek’ initiative and the Development Planning Fund which benefits improvement projects carried out by local councils and government ministries.”

Fees for regularising illegalities vary according to the size and type of the building, with costs ranging from €1,500  for 150 square metre apartments to €3,600 for a commercial establishments and €6,500 for a penthouse.

In 2016, four environmental NGOs had objected to the scheme claiming it facilitated a “process of regularisation by stealth”.

Flimkien għal Ambjent Ahjar had condemned the amnesty as a “transparent attempt to legalise the illegal” and reward the construction lobby.

“The Labour government continues to reward illegality. Political opportunism and environmental insensitivity are the hallmark of the current administration,” FAA said.

Illegalities outside development zones are excluded but illegalities in urban conservation areas and scheduled historical buildings can still be considered.

The Chamber of Architects had also criticised the scheme which it said makes no distinction between minor illegalities and major ones, “giving the impression that anything can be regularised.”

Previous legislation introduced by the PN government in 2012 and 2013 only allowed owners to request the authority to refrain from executing enforcement notices on minor illegalities. Between 2013 and 2016, the authority approved 4,006 requests to stop planning enforcements against minor illegalities.

                           
                               
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