No planning law reform a year after prime minister’s commitment

The Planning Authority has yet to take action on minister Ian Borg's illegal pool.


Aqra bil-Malti

It’s been over a year since Prime Minister Robert Abela pledged to reform the current planning process, which allows construction projects to proceed despite being under appeal.

During a Labour mass meeting on 1 May last year, Robert Abela announced that the process for allowing development to continue despite an appeal against the permit would be halted.

Abela made this declaration in response to the scandal involving one of his ministers who had continued to build a pool illegally, even as the irregular permit was being scrutinised in court.

During this week’s parliamentary session, PN MP Ivan Bartolo enquired about the prime minister’s 12-month-old promise. Minister Jonathan Attard responded, “The process is still ongoing”.

Under the current system, developers can continue construction even if a permit is challenged before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT) or the Court of Appeals.

This system has been in place for years and is often abused by developers, who proceed to complete their projects before the EPRT or the Court decides.

There have been several instances where the Court revoked the permits issued by the Planning Authority and declared the developments illegal, notwithstanding that the building would have been built, sold, and occupied.

The rules remain the same a year after Abela’s pledge.

Still no enforcement notice against Ian Borg’s pool

Foreign Minister Ian Borg is one of those benefitting from Robert Abela’s inaction.

PN MP Stanley Zammit asked Planning Minister Clint Camilleri to state what measures the Planning Authority has taken against the illegal permit issued to Minister Borg since April 2023, when the Court decided to annul the permit. Camilleri replied that no concrete steps have been taken.

Camilleri told parliament last week that “the Planning Authority is proceeding according to the procedure used when a building is not covered by a permit”.

It is unclear whether the Planning Authority’s CEO, Oliver Magro, will take any action.

Although the court twice declared Ian Borg’s permit irregular, his architect, Colin Zammit, continued the work and completed the illegal development.

When the court annulled the minister’s permit, the pool was completed and remains in place until today.

While the Planning Authority can order a direct intervention to enforce the court’s decision, no such action was taken.

The Planning Authority issued the irregular permit when Ian Borg was the minister responsible for the Authority.


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17 days ago

The only bother Abela and Cabinet have is how not to end up in jail.

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