The planning authority wants to do away with “modern-day slums” through a new policy that will increase minimum dwelling sizes, ban basement accommodation and alter height limitations on new developments.

The draft design policy, released for public consultation yesterday, proposes a wide ranging review of planning regulations, many of which were last updated in 2007.

The tiny buildings, these so-called modern-day slums that many complain about, must be addressed

“The tiny buildings, these so-called modern-day slums that many are complaining about, need to be addressed.

“We feel this policy does precisely that,” said architect Victor Sladden, who chaired the working group behind the document.

The proposed minimum size of a one-bedroom property would be increased from 45 to 55 square metres, two-bedroom properties from 76 to 90 square metres, while that for three-bedroom buildings would be increased from 96 to 115 square metres.

Height restrictions will also be altered with the introduction of four new street-to-dwelling ratios. These will also take into account those parts of the building visible by a pedestrian, such as receding penthouses.

Mr Sladden said planning applications were often viewed in a vacuum and needed to be evaluated in the context of the final development.

To this end, the policy document proposes a set of urban typologies, all of which have their own design specifications.

The typologies include the restrictive urban conservation areas, town centres and a number of different residential areas, non residential areas and seafronts.

The Mepa board will also take the facades of surrounding buildings into consideration when deciding on a development. Large blank facades will no longer be allowed, and Mr Sladden said the document would set footprint limitations when it came to developments in green lungs, to protect limited green spaces.

The architect said the new document was designed to urge architects to plan developments from the top floor down. This, he said, was needed to curb the trend of buildings having washrooms, solar panels and other structures added onto them.

The draft policy can be viewed at www.mepa.org.mt/public-consultation. Submissions can be sent to dc2014@mepa.org.mt. The consultation ends on January 16.

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