The Malta Independent 2 December 2023, Saturday
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Planning control applications only regulate land use, layout, building height – PA

Saturday, 20 May 2023, 10:25 Last update: about 7 months ago

The Planning Authority (PA) said Saturday that planning control applications only regulate the land use, layout of streets and building height and not whether a site is within the development zone or not.

The statement made reference to various statements that have been circulating in the media and which are sometimes, giving an incorrect understanding of what planning control (PC) applications are about.


Land that became part of the development zone in accordance with the rationalisation legislation of 2006 does not become ‘developable’ with a PC application but is ‘developable’ as a result of the 2006 Local Plans, the PA said.

 The Authority would like to clarify that the submission of applications received by the PA does not always relate to development permits. The Authority also receives and processes other types of applications, one of which is known as the 'planning control application'. The scope of the PC application is primarily used if an applicant or site owner wants to amend the building or road alignment of a given site or wishes to change the zoning of a site.

The PC application is also used when a given site within the development boundaries has no planning parameters. In which case a development application cannot be assessed. Planning parameters include what the potential building height within the site is, what uses may be considered (residential, commercial, mixed etc.), and what area, if any, of the site should remain unbuilt, amongst others. Many of these sites, that are within the development zone, and have no planning parameters are known as rationalisation sites. In 2006, the Government made amendments to the local plans whereby a number of unbuilt sites around Malta and Gozo were included to be part of the development zone.

These sites are located next to built-up areas and may in certain cases be agricultural land. However, as of 2006, these sites were no longer considered ODZ but became part of the development zone. Given that these sites were included in the development zone without planning parameters, before a landowner/s may submit a development application for the Authority’s consideration, the landowner/s needs to apply and propose what the planning parameters for the site may be.

The Authority evaluates the PC application and may approve, requests modifications or reject the PC application.

All PC application decisions are decided in public by the PA’s Executive Council. A Planning control permit does not automatically give the landowner/s the right to start developing the land. A landowner/s needs to submit a development planning application, which application is again assessed against existing planning policies and parameters as established in the PC permit. Although a planning control application may be granted for a given site, it does not automatically mean a development permit is granted on the site.

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