Permits for villas in Rabat
The case the Besfords refer to in their letter (January 11) involved the renewal of a planning permit for the construction of three one-storey villas in Rabat. Planning permission for this development had originally been granted in 2004, when an outline permit was approved, followed by a full development permit issued in 2008, which is valid until April 2013.
Works started months ago in line with the approved full development permit.
During the public hearing, the Environment and Planning Commission noted the Planning Directorate’s position that there was no valid justification to refuse the renewal of the permit because there were no changes in policies as the original full development permit was granted in 2008.
The site on which the villas were permitted is not a white area but within the development boundary of Rabat and governed by policy NWRS6.
Moreover, in accordance with the conditions of permit, the commission also noted that the whole site had undergone an extensive archaeological excavation monitored by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage. Following the finalisation of the archaeological evaluation, the development layout was slightly amended to protect and conserve the features that were discovered. This was also approved by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.
The commission also ensured that the bank guarantee amounting to €159,096, to ensure adherence to the monitoring condition and as had been stipulated in the original permit, was kept.
The Besfords report that the commission at no point during the public meeting invited the numerous objectors present to voice their concerns. What the Besfords failed to say is that, at the start of the meeting, there was consensus among the objectors present for architect Carmel Cacopardo to speak on their behalf. At no point did the commission prohibit any intervention from the floor. Had the Besfords asked to make additional comments, they would have been allowed to do so, as was Astrid Vella, who also spoke up on behalf of FAA.
Finally, the Besfords can rest assured that, contrary to their statements, all Mepa board and commission members assume full responsibility to make impartial and fair decisions within the framework of the law and after weighing carefully all related planning and environmental issues.
If any party is aggrieved by the decision made by the commission, an objector can always appeal to the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal. It is rather surprising that no third party appeal was lodged following the approval of the outline permit in 2004, nor after the full permit was issued in 2008 or even following the approval of the renewal permit last November.