Updated at 4.55pm with ministry reaction

Delays caused by Malta’s cultural heritage regulator are leading to construction projects costing more, the developers’ lobby has warned the public.

The Malta Developers Association (MDA) said it continued to receive several complaints about applications being held up at the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH), despite its setup having recently been changed.

“It seems that this office is still hampered by lack of human resources and is consequently facing responsibilities beyond its capacity,” the MDA said, noting that delays were increasing project costs for applicants.

“This extra cost will eventually be borne by the buyers of newly built property, with the general public not realising that interests paid because of bureaucracy and time-wasting are part of the equation when calculating the cost of a project,” it said.

The MDA called on authorities to solve the problem without delay.

The SCH’s workload has increased several times over in recent years, with new laws requiring it to assess each and every development application.

Last December, Times of Malta reported on concerns about the SCH being stretched to its limit. At the time, the watchdog had a staff contingent of just seven people responsible for assessing all development applications and monitoring ongoing ones.

Then, it had plans to add four to five people to its payroll. But even that would not be enough to handle its workload, the Superintendent at the time, Anthony Pace, had warned.

Committed to strengthening SCH - ministry

The Cultural Ministry acknowledged that the SCH was understaffed, but assured developers that work was underway to rectify the situation.

Thirteen graduates had joined the SCH’s technical team in recent months and more recruitments were planned for next year, the ministry said in a statement issued on Friday afternoon.

Superintendent Joe Magro Conti had held several positive meetings with stakeholders including the MDA, the ministry said, and these meetings would continue over the next months.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us