The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Planning Authority ‘studying decisions taken by the Court’ on db Group project

Kevin Schembri Orland Tuesday, 25 June 2019, 08:12 Last update: about 26 days ago

The Planning Authority told the Malta Independent that it is "studying the decisions taken by the Courts," when asked whether the same board members will sit to take a decision on the db Group ITS site proposal should the project reach voting stage again.

Last week the Planning Authority had declared the decision of the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, as well as that of the Planning Authority Board, on the db Group project at the ITS site null and void. The case mainly revolved around board member Matthew Pace, and the court presided over by Judge Mark Chetcuti ruled that planning board member Matthew Pace had a conflict of interest because of his involvement in real estate when he voted on the project.

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The lawsuit was made possible by a crowdfunding initiative last October, when over €26,000 were raised to cover legal expenses for actions against the project. This led to an appeal against the decision taken on 20 September by the Planning Board.

After three months of hearings, the planning appeals tribunal gave the go ahead for the DB Project but Transport Malta had to confirm within 30 days that the road network will cater for the additional traffic before a final compliance certificate is issued to the project. The developer was also instructed to create an additional 270 square metres of public open space and reduce the height of the tower by 10m, and that of the hotel by 8m. But the tribunal had turned down other objections by the appellants including that of an alleged conflict of interest of PA board member Matthew Pace. The court case was then filed.

The court also said that the judgement should serve as guidance for all members of the board to consider well whether their position is tenable in the new adjudication of the project when the application goes back before them and that a repetition of this episode not repeat itself taking into account that they already expressed themselves on the issue.

The Malta Independent, given that statement by the court, asked the Planning Authority for information about the process following the court's decision. The PA was asked whether any of the same board members will be taking a vote if a new vote is required.

The authority, in response, said: "Further to your query kindly note that Planning Authority is studying the decisions taken by the Courts."


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