The Malta Independent 16 July 2020, Thursday

Dramatic drop in overall planning permit approvals in April, increase in terraced houses

Rebekah Cilia Monday, 25 May 2020, 09:33 Last update: about 3 months ago

April saw a dramatic decrease in dwelling planning application approvals, according to data published by the Planning Authority (PA), probably due to the measures taken by the same authority with regards the review of applications, due to COVID-19.

In March, controversy had erupted after the PA said the Planning Board and Planning Commission scheduled meetings were to go ahead. 

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Following an angry reaction by NGOs and environmentalists, the PA said it would decide on whether the Planning Board meeting would be held after consulting with the health authorities. It said, however, that the Planning Commission meeting would go ahead, although all necessary health safeguards would be put in place.

On 23 March, Environment and Planning Minister, Aaron Farrugia said that the PA's public meetings had been cancelled, following discussions with the health authorities and stakeholders.

On 28 March, it was then decided that the PA would continue conducting its public meetings to decide on applications online or any other viable means of video conferencing. The Authority also decided to extend, by an additional three years, all development permits which, today, are still within their validity period but are due to expire by, or any date earlier to the 31 December 2022.

The latter was done as a “proactive measure” to prevent current permit holders from having to carry out a significant amount of works within a short period, once normality is restored.

It is understood that these restrictions had an effect on the number of applications approved in April. In comparison, whilst April saw a total of only 391 applications approved, 771 dwelling planning applications were approved in February.

1,293 permits for apartments were approved in April 2019, while the number for April 2020 went down to 316. Permits for terraced houses, on the other hand, actually increased from 16 in February 2019, to 32 in April 2020.

The Malta Independent had reported that the PA had churned out no less than 12,485 dwelling applications in 2019. This was one of the highest numbers of dwelling permits approved in the space of a year since 2000.

According to statistics published by the PA, the highest-ever number of planning applications approved was recorded in 2018, at a staggering 12,885.

 

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