The Malta Independent 21 January 2019, Monday

70% of applications for accessibility compliance certificates rejected by the CRPD

Albert Galea Monday, 16 July 2018, 11:34 Last update: about 7 months ago

70% of the applications for a compliance certificate which states that a building is in line with accessibility guidelines were rejected by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) over 2017.  This statistic was brought to light in the Commission’s Annual Report.

The CRPD is in charge of ensuring that the Equal Opportunities Act is observed in a reasonable manner.   As part of this enforcement, the Planning Authority is obliged to consult with CRPD regarding applications for numerous different types of buildings.

ADVERTISEMENT

All public buildings and government housing units must be compliant with the guidelines, as do buildings which are to be converted into boutique hotels, restaurants or similar establishments.  Private buildings that contain more than 30 units meanwhile must also be compliant with these same guidelines.

To award this certificate, CRPD technical experts examine and determine whether the plans are in line with the Access for All Design Guidelines which were issued in 2011, and are now held as a standard guideline.

The Planning Authority will then request that the developer obtain a certificate from the CRPD after a site inspection to confirm that the finished building is conformity with the guidelines; after which a compliance certificate will be issued.  This way, the developer can then apply for water and electricity supply.

The CRPD’s Annual Report for the past year shows that out of 2,506 applications for the compliance certificate, only 752 were recommended for approval.  This means that 1,754 applications were not recommended for approval; a figure which equates to around 70%.

An application for a compliance certificate would be rejected simply because the building does not reach the accessibility standards set out in the guideline.  This means that the plans must go back to the drawing board to be amended accordingly.

Asked why the rate of rejection for the issuing of this certificate is so high, the chairman of the CRPD Oliver Scicluna told this newsroom that there may be a number of factors at play.  One reason may be that “architects take accessibility for granted”, but he also had suspicions that the high rejection rate may be down to a “money-making process” on the part of these architects, with the reasoning that if the plans are sent back to the drawing board for amendments, the architects can then make more money out of the client.

It was either down to these reasons, or simply that the architects did not know about the existence of the guidelines, Scicluna said. 

That the architects do not know about the guideline is unlikely, as numerous architecture students confirmed with this newsroom that the Access for All Guidelines are mentioned during their course.

Contacted by The Malta Independent about these implications, the Chamber of Architects said that it has “difficulty commenting about the statistic”, because it has no information on why the certificate applications were rejected and so it cannot comment on whether the rejections were based on “trivial” or “more substantive” reasons.

This being said however, the Chamber of Architects said that the commission vets all plans before planning permission is approved and that is it is the case that the design was approved; it is more likely that the compliance breach came because of a failure to complete the building according to the approved drawings.

If this was the case, the architect does not need to submit updated drawings and so the issue of this being done to charge clients more “absolutely cannot arise”, the Chamber explained.  Indeed, they stressed to point out that architects are held to a professional code of conduct and that no complaints of regarding additional fees for such situations has ever been received.

  • don't miss