MEPA’s new development planning process will kick-in on the 01st January 2011, following the publication of the Legal Notice in the past days. The new process will seek to improve the Authority’s efficiency, consistency and transparency in all processes while strength its enforcement arm.
Another important milestone has been the appointment of the members that will sit on the new Environment and Planning Commissions and the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, which will be replacing the Development Control Commissions and the Planning Appeals Boards respectively..
The members appointed to the new commissions and review tribunal are contracted on a full-time basis, which will serve to further enhance the efficiency and consistency of MEPA’s decision-making process.
Key to the process is a mandatory pre-screening stage which can take a maximum of four weeks whereby applicants will be notified what documents and studies were needed to accompany the submission of a formal application. While applications will be classified as being simple, complex or major, each of the classifications would be accompanied by a set time frame within which Mepa will take its decisions.
It will also not be possible for any person to have certain illegalities sanctioned, particularly if the illegality was carried out after May 2008 within an Outside Development Zone (ODZ) or in protected areas. This also applies for any scheduled property.
Another important milestone of the MEPA reform process has been reached with the establishment of the two new commissions that now replace the Development Control Commissions (DCCs).
The members of the new commissions, which have already started carrying out their duties following an intense two weeks of induction at MEPA, have been appointed on a full-time basis. The two Chairpersons of the new commissions have also been appointed as Vice-Chairpersons within the MEPA Board. These initiatives were adopted to ensure improved efficiency and consistency levels within MEPA’s decision-making process.
The two new Commissions will have different remits, enabling each to focus on the different types of applications that are submitted to the Authority. One commission will focus on applications within ODZ, villa or urban conservation areas while the other commission will focus on all other applications that are within the development boundaries. The members of the Commissions are Perit Sandra Magro and Perit Franco Montesin (Chairpersons), Perit Elizabeth Ellul, Perit Claude Borg, Mr. John Mangion, Mr. Anthony Ellul, Perit Fleur Ebejer, Perit Saviour Borg, Perit Anna Maria Attard Montalto and Mr. Bjorn Bonello.
The establishment of the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal and the appointment of its board members is also an important milestone in the MEPA reform process. The Tribunal will consist of Perit Chris Falzon as Chairperson, and Dr Ramon Rossignaud and Perit Jevon Vella appointed as members. Each will be employed on a full-time basis and for a four-year period.
With the publication of the new legal notice, permits issued by the Authority but which are within Outside Development Zones (ODZ), schedule properties, close to or on archaeologically-sensitive sites or involve the demolition of properties within Urban Conservation Areas (UCA) will be held in inactive for 30 days, during which an appeal can be filed. The Tribunal within 6 working days will need to start hearing the case while works are suspended.