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 on a complaint regarding the validity of Category B (CTB) Concessions by the Planning Authority.
In the Final Opinion, the Commissioner for Environment and Planning had concluded that the last paragraph of the first part of Circular 1/19 issued by the Planning Authority is found to be unfair, irregular and against the principles of natural justice as any new application is to be vetted on the nature of the proposal description and the relative drawings and any CTB concessions issued on the same site cannot be reassessed under the current planning regime.
The Commissioner recommended that the Planning Authority should withdraw and cancel this part of the Circular to the effect that a new application can be submitted on a site covered by a CTB concession without the need for sanctioning, regularising or removing the illegal works covered by the same CTB concession, as long as no further illegal development has taken place on site.
This case could have been easily resolved by revoking the Planning Authority Circular in question that, put simply, is punishing the owner twice for the same contravention.
Although the Planning Authority agreed with the Commissioner that applicants should not have their applications stalled because of illegalities that were covered by a CTB concession, the Planning Authority failed to implement the recommendation made by the Commissioner for Environment and Planning in May 2019. The Ombudsman and the Commissioner brought this case to the attention of the Prime Minister in January 2020. Since no action has been taken, the Ombudsman and the Commissioner sent this report to the House of Representatives.
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