MORE MINOR DEVELOPMENTS FALL WITHIN ‘FAST-TRACK’ PERMIT STRUCTURE
An amendment to the legislation governing Development Notification Orders will now exempt further development. OUTLOOK speaks with Development Services Manager Martin Saliba to find out what recent changes have been introduced.
MEPA has recently amended the Development Notification Orders legislation which exempts more minor developments from requiring a formal application for development permission, as long as specific planning criteria are satisfied. Through this ‘fast track’ procedure, a considerable number of small-scale interventions and development types (referred to as ‘permitted development’) will do away with intense planning process and get implemented in a speedier manner.
A DNO amendment which has recently been included to the list of developments which are exempt from requiring a full development application permit is that included in Class 17, related to Malta Industrial Parks Ltd. (MIP) Industrial Zones. This Class facilitates the construction, alternation or extension of an industrial unit within an established industrial estate and will only require a notification should the development fall within the parameters of the area’s Master Plan. All industrial estates are currently in the process of developing a Master Plan. Should the industrial areas not have a Master Plan then applicants will have to apply for the full permit.
Another amendment which seeks to encourage cultural and social activity such as feasts, exhibitions and fairs is that related to the temporary use of land by Government entities, Local Councils and public entities. Through this class entitled Class 10, the period of use for a specific area required for the organisation of any social or cultural activity has been extended from 30 days to three months.
Martin Saliba, Development Service Manager at MEPA explained how such measures help to “decrease bureaucracy whilst increasing flexibility, and activity to be enjoyed by both Maltese and foreigners who visit our Islands”. Notwithstanding this, any temporary structure required for such activities should not impair road visibility or otherwise pose a threat to the safety of pedestrian or vehicular traffic. It should also respect the existing historical building and natural environment. Waste collection, waste disposal facilities and any necessary mobile sanitary facilities should be put in place however they should not create any irreversible interventions that will alter the site.
An amendment has also included when it comes to the construction of reservoirs in the countryside. The change favours wholly underground reservoirs over those constructed above soil level. This amendment which is included under Class 8, encourages that the construction of reservoirs is done wholly underground with its finished roof level at least 0.75m below soil level and shall not exceed the area of 100m2. This development which only requires a notification, favours the development of underground reservoirs to those above soil level which will still require a full permit. In this way the Authority wants to discourage, were possible, the number of structures which dampen the visibility in such areas. “Above ground reservoirs usually require water from external sources such as by means of water bowsers which create pressure both to the soil of the surrounding area but also to the water tables” concludes Mr. Saliba.