Updated 3.45pm with Moviment Graffitti's reaction
No permit is required for current road works off Triq San Ġwann Bosco in Dingli, the Planning Authority said on Friday.
The works have led to environmental protests by activists, residents and farmers, who repeatedly stopped Infrastructure Malta from carrying out the works this week.
Infrastructure Malta decided to go ahead with the construction of the schemed street after the Environment and Planning Tribunal turned down an appeal against a permit for the uprooting of trees.
Since then, three Dingli residents filed a judicial protest against Moviment Graffitti, arguing that the activist group was acting “abusively, clandestinely and against the express wishes of residents”. However, nearly 200 Dingli residents signed a Graffitti petition against the building of the road.
The Dingli council has come out in favour of the plans.
Addressing a news conference on Thursday, Graffitti called for detailed plans of the intended works. Earlier, Infrastructure Malta said it was “accepting” seven requests by families on how the new road should be built.
In a statement on Friday, the PA said the proposed road was at the edge of the development zone and defined the boundary between the development zone and outside development zone.
It linked the southern edge of two schemed roads - Sqaq il-Museum and Daħla tas-Sienja, which are partly formed, and extends towards Triq San Ġwann Bosco.
It said the road in question goes back to the 1965 Key Plan, which specifically delineated a road opposite the building area. This was confirmed in the temporary provision schemes (TPS) approved in 1989, which shifted the development zone boundary to pass through the centre of the proposed road.
The 2006 local plan retained the development zone boundary as in the TPS. It showed the building alignment on the northern side of the road but did not define the southern border of the road.
Building alignments are identified in the respective local plan maps and define street frontages, the PA said.
The PA said that, in this regard, following a request by the Dingli council in October, the authority provided an interpretation of the building alignment on the topographic survey.
To limit the take up of land, the width of the road was limited to eight metres, which is the minimum width of a road in accordance with subsidiary legislation for new roads and road works regulations.
Exempt from planning permission
The authority said that Infrastructure Malta, together with other state agencies, are exempt from requiring planning permission to carry out specific types of development as indicated in the development notification order (DNO).
In this regard, the formation of a road in accordance with a development scheme is considered as permitted development.
The authority reiterated that the road works in this part of Dingli formed part of a scheme road and no permit was, therefore, required.
It said that the formation of the road would still have been possible following the issue of development permits along its frontage within the development zone as an obligation within the development permit itself to open and form the new road prior to construction works.
Both Infrastructure Malta and the Dingli council, it said, had approached it for the correct interpretation of facts with regards to the development plan and the respective building and road alignments.
Graffitti: PA confirms planning permit is needed
Reacting, Graffitti said that the PA’s statement confirmed, black on white, that IM needed a planning permit for this road.
"The PA is trying to justify the building of this new road without planning permits, citing a Legal Notice allowing 'schemed roads' in Local Plans to go ahead without such permits.
"However, as can clearly be seen in the Local Plan for the area, the road that IM wants to build does not match with the schemed road in the Local Plan.
"It is clear that the schemed road, as drawn in the Local Plan, does not go beyond the ODZ line (white part beyond red line). However, the road IM wants to build will take up ODZ land. This means that they came up with a street alignment that does not exist within the Local Plan, making a planning permission necessary."