Planning Commission chairperson Claude Mallia has resigned, just over a year after he was appointed, the Planning Authority has confirmed.

A spokesman for the authority said Mallia had resigned “to pursue career moves/changes”. No official statement was issued by the authority about the resignation.

The commission assesses planning applications that fall within development zones.

Claude Mallia has “an opportunity for a change in career”.Claude Mallia has “an opportunity for a change in career”.

Mallia had been appointed in November 2020 to replace Simon Saliba following the persistent calls for the latter’s removal by several environmental NGOs.

They had accused Saliba of “siding with developers” during hearings. Saliba was then relegated to serving as a member of the PA’s regularisation committee.

There have been no such complaints against Mallia.

Commission chairs and members are appointed to fixed terms of three years and the government cannot remove them from the boards altogether. They can ask them to take on a different role within a different commission.

When contacted, Mallia confirmed he had “an opportunity for a change in career”.

Asked whether he had resigned because of any possible conflicts of interest, Mallia replied: “Far from it. I enjoyed my three-year stint at PA. Never had any conflicts.”

Mallia graduated in architecture in 1997. When Labour took office in 2013, he was appointed a member of the Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee and remained in the role until 2018.

The following year he was appointed to the planning commission before going on the chair it.

He also served as a substitute member of the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, which hears appeals against decisions of the PA board and commissions.

Civil society anger towards Saliba had peaked in July 2020, when 11 organisations called for his removal as chairperson “for obstructing the right to a fair planning process”.

The NGOs insisted the man consistently showed disrespect towards residents and other objectors during planning authority sittings and “has often openly and aggressively sided with the developers instead of fulfilling his role as an impartial arbitrator”.

Saliba’s removal was the second major shake-up of planning commissions announced within months, following the removal of Elizabeth Ellul as chair of the ODZ board.

Ellul was removed following a series of controversies concerning approved projects in ODZ areas.

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