2nd December 2013
The Final Report by the Environment and Planning Commissioner in the Office of the Ombudsman on the investigation into the granting of development permits by MEPA for a high rise complex at MistraVillage has found the revocation of the permits to be justified. The investigation was requested by Din l-Art Helwa when the organisation invoked Article 77 of the Environment and Development Planning Act by which it demanded that Mepa revoke the outline permit for the Xemxija Ridge development.
The Commissioner’s Report concludes that the “failures by the Directorate’s Major Projects Unit and the Boards are sufficient to justify the revocation of the permits”.
The report states that MEPA’s Major Project’s Unit “failed to give a comprehensive and objective assessment of the cases, failed to provide a full account of the relevant planning policies and regulations justifying its recommendation, and failed to provide strong supporting justifications as to how the proposal had a noteworthy urban and architectural design, when the design clearly left an adverse impact on its surroundings.” Furthermore, “the Boards failed to question these shortcomings in both cases, when it normally does so.”
The report also states that the “application of the Floor Area Ratio policy to this project is seriously flawed, as it was applied in a selective manner, leaving out key conditions which could have had a material bearing on the eventual determination.”
The report states that “Notwithstanding these major flaws, the Major Projects Unit actively supported this proposal, regardless of the detrimental effects it was bound to have on its environs. In addition, the Board complacently overlooked such major drawbacks in the proposal and did not give due consideration to the justified concerns raised by the objectors of the deleterious effect it would cause.”
On the traffic impact, the report states that the “reply given by Transport Malta is superficial as it does not give supporting reasons as to how the downscaling of the project now makes it acceptable.” The report notes that the traffic concerns have not been solved and that “recent comments in the press that the report on the proposed TEN-T Xemxjia Bypass is being revisited support this conclusion.”
The report concludes that the Outline permit for the redevelopment of MistraVillage was granted “leaving issues that have major adverse impact unresolved, for a decision to be taken on them at Full Development Permit stage. These major adverse impacts were and still are unresolved. This alone should have resulted in a refusal.”
A copy of the full report is available on the Din l-Art Helwa website www.dinlarthelwa.org