Court rulings force Planning Authority to revoke permits after years of inaction

In the past ten years, 17 development permits approved by the Planning Authority were revoked after no permits were cancelled for six years since the Labour Party was elected to power, according to information tabled in parliament.

Most of the permits revoked followed court decisions, raising questions about the Authority’s review mechanisms.

Data tabled in parliament by Planning Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi in response to a parliamentary question by Nationalist Party MP Albert Buttigieg shows the Authority has only reconsidered a permit following a court decision.

None of the permits were revoked through the Authority’s own initiative.

The data shows that from 2013 to 2019, the Authority did not revoke a single development permit.

Meanwhile, since 2020, 15 permits were nullified by the courts out of a total of 17 since 2013, representing a significant increase in recent years.

The revoked permits included DB Group’s initial permit (PA/3807/17) for the City Centre development at the former ITS site.

The permit was approved and appealed before the Environment Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT), which upheld its validity only to be later overturned by the court.

DB Group was issued a second development permit for just the excavation work on the site, which it has since withdrawn.

Foreign Affairs Minister Ian Borg’s illegal ODZ pool (PA/867/20) is also included among the permits revoked by the courts.

Despite the permit being declared unsanctionable by the courts, the pool remains in place, with the Planning Authority failing to take action.

It has not even issued an enforcement notice on the illegal development.

An approved Planning Authority permit for the construction of a five-star hotel on Saqqaja Hill, Rabat, was also revoked before demolition and construction works on the project had started.

Most of the permits revoked have no enforcement notices issued by the Planning Authority.

In comments to the press last May, architect Carmel Cacopardo and Kamra tal-Periti President Andre Pizzuto had said the court revocations indicated that the PA and the EPRT were “not applying the laws correctly” when issuing permits.

Last week, The Shift also reported the Planning Authority’s failure to take action on almost 700 different enforcement cases.

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