The recently announced revisions in the Regularisation Scheme explained

The Planning Authority has revised the rules for the Regularisation of existing development.


The Planning Authority (PA) has revised the rules for the Regularisation of existing development.

While the premise remains that a non-sanctionable infringement must have occurred before 2016, persons whose property falls partially outside the development zone may now also apply.

This news will affect many individuals and families since non-Regularised properties cannot be sold through bank finance.

The PA will evaluate each request for Regularisation on a case-by-case basis.

It may reject any applications it deems are not compliant with the provisions of the regulations – including injury to amenity and adverse impacts on the rights of third parties.

Those whose entire property has no permit or lies entirely outside the development zone will not be eligible.

Meanwhile, for more information on the Regularization of Existing Development, the PA suggests consulting with one's architect so that they may guide and help in line with the updated regulations.

Here are some Quick Reference Q&As on the Regularisation Scheme:

What is the problem with certain properties today?

Certain property owners are not able to place on the market, or acquire a bank loan for their property, due to an irregularity which is non sanctionable, and took place before 2016.

Can all non-sanctionable existing development be regularised?

No. Up until today, applications for regularisation are only accepted for irregular buildings and structures which are entirely within the development boundaries.

The proposed amendments seek to marginally widen this and to also include pre-2016 properties which have their site perimeter partially beyond the development boundaries, but which are covered with an existing permit.

The amendments also propose to include development entirely within a Category 1 Rural Settlement.

The irregular development must not constitute an injury to amenity. Moreover, any irregularity must appear in the 2016 aerial photographs taken by the Authority.

What is an injury to amenity?

An irregular development cannot jeopardise the ‘comfort, convenience, safety, security and utility that may be enjoyed within, and around, a property or neighbourhood’.

When considering an application, decision-makers are therefore required to take into consideration privacy distances, safety issues and outlook levels.

Can a building, entirely within an ODZ site, be regularised?

No. Only existing, unsanctionable, non-conformant, developments within a Category 1 Rural Settlement built before 2016 may be considered.

Can a building that is not covered with a permit be regularised?

No, it is not eligible for regularisation unless it is located entirely within a Category 1 Rural Settlement and built before 2016.

What is a rural settlement?

Rural Settlements were designated in the 2006 through the local plans. These settlements, outside the development zone boundaries, were areas, where several old building permits for dwellings had been given, that were near the main urban areas but separated by an undeveloped gap.

My dwelling, with non-sanctioning irregularities, is situated, partially, beyond development zone. Can I opt for the regularisation process?

Yes, should the proposed amendments be approved. Properties, which fall partially beyond the development boundaries, shall be able to apply through this process.

However, regularisation shall apply only to sites accommodating existing development and their curtilage, which site is already covered by a permit issued prior to 2016. Sites located partially within an ODZ, where no form of development permission exists, shall not be eligible for regularisation.

Will there be a change in the application fee?

Yes. An applicant shall still be obliged to pay a minimum administrative fee of €50 for every application. Additionally, every application shall be subjected to a revised schedule of fees as set out in the regulations.

Will registered interested parties still retain rights?

When the Planning Authority receives an application for a site, on which there is an enforcement notice still in force, the Authority shall safeguard the interests of all third parties who had submitted a formal complaint for which a notice had been issued. In such cases, the Authority shall inform these third parties of the submitted regularisation application and offer them the option that, within a 15-day period, they inform the Authority whether they are to be considered as registered interested parties.

Can the Authority impose conditions?

The Authority, on issuing a permit, retains the right to impose any conditions which it may deem necessary, including the execution of specific works within a specified timeframe. Failing to abide by these conditions shall result in the dismissal of the application. The Authority reserves the right of an enforcement action should the application be refused.

How will the Authority distribute the income derived from these applications?

Since the introduction of these regulations in 2016, the Authority received over 19,500 applications. Over the years, the Authority has distributed its income generated from these applications to finance schemes for the regeneration of town and villages, namely the Irrestawra Darek Grant Scheme, Irrestawra l-Faċċata, Irrestawra l-Każin and the Traditional Wooden Balcony Restoration Grant Scheme. Some of the monies are also used for urban improvement projects, which are proposed by local councils, or NGOs, through the Development Planning Fund.

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