Consultant claims Ramla architects defrauded Mepa -
david vella
Thu, 26 July 2007

When filing the first application for the building of villas at Ramla l-Hamra, the developers’ architects may have defrauded Mepa by giving “false, misleading or incorrect” information.

A consultant commissioned by the ‘Save Ramla Committee’, led by Xaghra local councillor Carmen Bajada, has filed a detailed report to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (Mepa), in which it gives a number of reasons why this authority should “annul the outline planning permit issued at Ramla, rendering full development planning permit for same development proposal as null and void”.

Mepa sources told that the authority has held a meeting to discuss the critical allegations the report contains, and to try and find a way of defending itself from the new information it reveals.

The consultant’s report states that when the developer’s architects filled in the outline permit application, they did not state that the same site where the villas were being proposed was subject to other development applications filed in previous years. The environment planning consultant, Lino Bianco, wrote in his report that this omission was made notwithstanding the fact that the developer’s architects were from the same office involved in all past applications and permits on the same site.

Bianco observed that in the section of the outline application form requesting information on “Previous applications, permits, clearances, notifications and enforcement notices on this site”, the developer’s architects wrote “N/A”, an acronym referring to “Not Applicable” or “Not available”.

Thus, the consultant is calling on Mepa to follow the ‘Development Planning Act’ and cancel the permit for the villas at Ramla l-Hamra.

Article 39 A of this law, which regulates development permits issued by Mepa, states that “the authority may, only in the cases of fraud or where public safety is concerned or where there is an error on the face of the record, by order revoke or modify any development permission”. It further states that in this article, the word “fraud” means “the submission to the authority of any information, declaration or plan on the basis of which the Authority has approved a development permission, where such information, declaration or plan is false, misleading or incorrect, irrespective of whether such deceit is the result of willful or negligent act”.

The above sections of the law were quoted by Bianco in his report. He further noted that Mepa did not consult the previous applications and permits, “which applications and permits were known to exist on site by the architectural practice submitting the application as the same office was involved in all past applications and permits”.

A press release sent by the Save Ramla Committee on Thursday also argues that the consultant’s report gives evidence that “half the area for the proposed complex of dwelling units, declared as ‘developed and disturbed land’ is not covered by a development permit’.
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26 Jul 2007 by