In terms of Article 22(4) of the Ombudsman Act, the Ombudsman, Mr. Anthony C. Mifsud, and the Commissioner for Environment and Planning, Perit Alan Saliba, have sent to the House of Representatives the Final Opinion concerning a complaint regarding a permit for a metal and glass structure taking up the public footpath at the Strand in Sliema.
On 16 May 2022, the Commissioner for Environment and Planning received a complaint against a permit for a metal and glass structure to take up the public footpath at the Strand in Sliema. The complainant had objected to this structure during the relevant representation period, only to be ignored by the Planning Commission. The MTA had also insisted that the “retractable canopy should not be an enclosed structure.”
Following an investigation, the Commissioner concluded that the allegations against the Planning Authority that it irregularly approved a structure on the pavement at Sliema had been found to be justified. The only two legal and right options for the Planning Authority were to process the proposal as a retractable canopy in line with the Policy, Guidance, and Standards for Outdoor Catering Areas on Public Open Spaces or else ask the applicant to change the proposal to a shading structure to respect the submitted drawings and advertise it and process the application as such. The Planning Authority did neither and chose to approve the proposal after advertising it as a retractable canopy and processing it as an enclosure and shading structure.
The Commissioner recommended that the Planning Authority should invoke Article 80 of the Development Planning Act and revoke the permit. The Commissioner also recommended that the application should then be reverted to the pre-publication stage so that the application is correctly advertised and correctly processed in line with the Development Planning Act and with the Policy, Guidance, and Standards for Outdoor Catering Areas on Public Open Spaces.
The Planning Authority did not implement the Commissioner’s recommendations, and therefore, the Case was referred to the Prime Minister in September 2022, and since no action has been taken, the Ombudsman and the Commissioner sent the report to the attention of the House of Representatives.
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