Annual Report 2021

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Annual Report




Introduction by the Chairperson of the Executive Council


Development Management Directorate


Planning Directorate


Compliance and Enforcement Directorate


ICT, Mapping and Digital Services Directorate


Corporate Services Directorate


Council, Boards and Committees



Annual Report 2021


Annual Report 2021

Introduction by the Chairperson of the Executive Council Mr Martin Saliba With its ups and downs 2021 was a continuation of the new normality brought along in 2020 with COVID-19. There were moments where we thought that we were out of the woods, but reality hit as case numbers spiked again, and we relived the restrictions. Despite this, our work at the Planning Authority continued relentlessly in all sectors within our remit. In 2021 the Executive Council of the Authority met 42 times and reviewed and decided over 70 planning control applications. The Council agreed to the scheduling of Villa Castro in Naxxar and Dar il-Bebbux in Ghaxaq at Grade 2 level, and Il-Barumbara Tonda in Mqabba at Grade 1 level. Furthermore, it revised the scheduling of Villa Barbaro after a request for reconsideration and issued emergency conservation orders on Palazzina Vincenti in St Julians and properties in Triq Wied is-Simar in Qala, Gozo. The Executive Council approved the part-funding of the proposed roof garden at the Lyceum, San Gorg Preca College in Hamrun and works at Ta’ Ġieżu church and the Franciscan premises in St Paul’s Street in Valletta. The Development Notification Order was amended to include a new class: Class 24, in relation to Urban Greening Projects. Furthermore, Circular 2/20 regarding Planning Authority Funds was also amended to include Development Planning Fund, ‘Grey to Green’.


Annual Report 2021

The Executive Council agreed that the requests to reconsider compromise fines imposed in accordance with Article 105 of the Development Planning Act (2016) and the daily fines petitions will henceforth be discussed and determined in public. I would like to commend our units, who worked ceaselessly through 2021 to monitor, review and deliver diligently in all areas, despite the challenges. In 2021 the Business Development Unit, within the Development Management Directorate experienced a considerable increase in cases. New applications received amounted to 1,792, an annual increase of 13%. Through hard work and determination, most applications were concluded on time. The Outside Development Zone (ODZ) Team received 1,174 applications, of which 1,126 applications were concluded, this marks a 14% increase over the output of the previous year. Furthermore, the Urban Conservation Area (UCA) team received 1,796 applications. Approximately 94 full development applications and 43 summary applications were concluded every month by this team. In 2021 the Planning Directorate signed 47 agreements relating to local funding projects, amounting to more than €5.7 million in total. These projects relate to required improvements in social and community facilities which will benefit the wider community. Furthermore, the Heritage Planning Unit continued work on the administration of grant schemes, namely: Irrestawra Darek, Irrestawra l-Faċċata, Irrestawra l-Kazin, Green your Building, and managed the Refund of Stamp Duty and exemption of Planning fees for applications in UCAs and scheduled buildings. Hundreds of applications were processed and approved in 2021 resulting in the allocation of substantial funds for conservation related projects.


Annual Report 2021

The Compliance and Enforcement Directorate received a total of 8,917 commencement notices in 2021, a decrease of 8.5% from 2021. Of these, 5,911 commencement notices were related to Development permissions; 1,807 to RG permissions; 915 to Development Notifictaions; and 284 notices related to DS consents. Officers carried out more than 7,100 registered inspections to monitor ongoing works in relation to permissions issued by the Authority. The ICTMDS Directorate’s Customer Care Unit handled over 122,000 phone calls in 2021, over 80,000 of which related directly to Customer Care issues, whilst over 5,000 related to enforcement complaints. I would like to commend the hard work and dedication of our team in servicing clients when they call with any kind of issue. Furthermore, last year, our plotting team worked on 10,127 planning applications, 1,422 Development Notification Order cases and 1,764 Regularisation applications, totaling 13,313. This is an increase of 2.1% over the previous year. The team worked through weekends and holidays to process these applications and managed to achieve a remarkable average turnaround period of three days. The Corporate Services Directorate is primarily responsible for planning manpower and capacity building. In 2021 we restructured some of the directorates, this triggered changes to the manpower demand which needed revisions to the 2021 Human Resources plans. In 2021, the unit issued 22 internal and 20 external calls for application, and processed 267 applications through shortlisting and video-conferenced interviews. These applications resulted in the issue of 57 appointments and the recruitment of 20 new employees. Furthermore, we are proud that ten Authority employees reading for a degree


Annual Report 2021

in Spatial Planning at the University of Malta, proceeded to the fourth year of their studies, fully sponsored by the Authority. In the first quarter of 2021 we set up the new Employee Development and Wellbeing Unit at the Authority. This unit is tasked with the continuous development of employee skills and abilities, and their wellbeing from a holistic approach. Employee development training was organized by the unit itself or established entities from outside of the Authority. Our employees attended informative sessions, workshops and conferences related to PA+, Cyber Security Awareness, Customer Care, Fire Fighting and First Aid, amongst other areas. PA+ is an ESF project focused on strengthening the institutional administrative capacity of local authorities to ensure the effective implementation of planning-related reform procedures. The Development and Wellbeing Unit looks after the welfare of employees. This service is especially required today, when our daily lives are changed drastically by events beyond our control. Through follow-up calls the team checked on staff members who were on long sick leave, quarantine, COVID-19 positive or experienced the loss of loved ones. A total of 112 calls were made between May and December 2021. The unit also raised awareness and celebrated international world days via communication to staff by email or social media posts. From June 2021, wellbeing tips were shared via email relating to all spheres of life, such as decluttering, appreciation and forgiveness. In August 2021 the Wellness Wednesday’s initiative was launched, through which employees are reminded of the importance of self-care through the Authority’s social


Annual Report 2021

media portal. Furthermore, on Wednesday’s the unit welcomes employees to meetings with one of its members to discuss any issues they may be struggling with. In September 2021, an online anonymous Employee Survey was circulated to all staff to review satisfaction, wellbeing, and views on remote working. A total of 301 responses were logged. The Development and Wellbeing Unit took over the management of the health insurance scheme for employees and their dependents, and organised eye tests for employees, giving a €65 reimbursement when a change of lenses was required. Furthermore, through a variety of Christmas activities, funds were raised by staff for L-Istrina, in aid of the Community Chest Fund. This amount was doubled by management and a total of €2,070 was donated. The internal Legal Office is a recent addition to the Authority’s structure. It is entrusted with providing legal assistance to over two hundred pending court cases and over 810 Environment and Planning Review Tribunal pending appeals. Functions include the compilation of evidence and the preparation and submission of acts within the legally imposed timeframes. This unit is also responsible for the compilation of contracts, including deeds required for the conditions of terms of permits issued. The re-establishment of this office is vital as it ascertains a comprehensive approach to the functions of the Authority. It is the Legal Office’s aim to keep serving the other sections whilst providing the required legal assistance.



Annual Report 2021

Development Management Directorate Director - Perit Silvio Farrugia BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT UNIT The Business Development Unit (BDU) is tasked with assessing applications of a commercial nature. In 2021, the Unit saw a considerable increase in new cases. The number of new applications increased from a monthly average of 132 in 2020, to 149 in 2021 for a total 1,792 applications. This is equivalent to an annual increase of 13%. Ninety-two percent of the cases received were processed through the full application process. While the vast majority of applications were concluded within the legal timeframe, the pending caseload increased marginally. The main challenge for 2022 is envisioned to be the retention of effective caseload management and ensuring full compliance with the legal provisions.



2020 392


2021 410


The General Development Unit (GDU) deals with development applications for sites within the development zone but outside the Urban Conservation Areas. In 2021, the Unit saw a minimal increase in new cases. The number of new applications increased from an average (per month) of 392 in 2020 to 410 in 2021, for an annual total of 4921. 52% of these were summary applications.


Annual Report 2021

The Unit’s performance also increased when compared to 2020 and the majority of applications were concluded on time, resulting in just a marginal increase in pending caseload.




During 2021, the ODZ team received 1,174 applications, a slight decrease of 80 applications over the previous year. Given the vast increase in numbers last year (28% increase



over 2019), the numbers of incoming applications was still considerably high for non-commercial ODZ applications. The Unit concluded the processing and assessment of 1,126 applications, a 14% increase over the output of the previous year. The year ended with a pending caseload of 742 applications.

URBAN CONSERVATION AREA (UCA) TEAM The UCA team received 1,796 applications. On average,


94 full process applications and 43 summary process


During 2021, the UCA team also reviewed on average


65 post-recommendation cases per month. The team


applications were processed and assessed every month.

concluded 1,913 applications in total, an increase of almost 3.4% over 2020 and closed the year with a caseload of 591 cases, a slight increase over the previous year. The UCA Team continued to strive to enable applicants to



carry out improvements to their properties with the least permanent impact and where possible, in a reversible manner. This ensures that the rehabilitation of historical and architecturally significant properties, mainly dwellings, are assured for future generations while allowing for such properties to be updated to the current standard of living.


Annual Report 2021

MAJOR PROJECTS UNIT The processing of Major Projects development applications is not only limited to the assessment of the development proposals but, in many cases involves extensive discussions with all stakeholders involved; a process which starts well ahead of the actual submission of a development application and continues throughout the planning process. During the current year of assessment, the Unit concluded a myriad of proposals, all extremely challenging in achieving high quality sustainable development within the established Planning Policy and legal framework. The Unit assessed large-scale retail establishments and industrial development, community facilities, quarries and highrise/landmark buildings for commercial use and tourism accommodation, amongst other proposals In 2021 the Major Projects Unit processed a total of 48 screening requests and received 121 applications. A total of 106 applications were referred for a decision.

EU AND SPECIAL PROJECTS UNIT The EU and Special Projects Unit processed a total of 15 screening requests and received 204 applications. A total of 217 applications were referred for a decision. All Units are committed to make every effort to focus on the best way to assess the applications in terms of quality, efficiency, and transparency.


Annual Report 2021

THE INTEGRATED ASSESSMENT AND PERMITTING UNIT The Integrated Assessment and Permitting Unit (IAPU) caters for a wide variety of applications and processes that are essential and integral to the Directorate’s function. IAPU compliments other vital functions that the Planning Authority provides to the public and stakeholders, such as architects and applicants. This year the Vetting Team joined IAPU which previously formed part of the Operations Unit. This was done to further streamline the vetting process into the current mainstream planning process.



The Development Notification Order team received 1,613 development requests. By the end of 2021, the team processed and concluded 1,414 applications. This Team also participated in consultation replies to


Transport Malta for the processing of Trenching Permit requests. A total of 1,585 road work permit consultation requests were received and replied within the stipulated period.

MINOR AMENDMENTS The Minor Amendments team received at total of 3,765 new requests. The increase in this type of application resulted from the extended permit validity that occurred by virtue of a legal notice issued to assist the permit holders to manage better their respective developments during the pandemic circumstances.


Annual Report 2021

REGULARISATION The office which processes regularisation applications received in total 1,669 applications during the year. 1,938 RG cases were concluded and referred to the Commission for a decision.

SANITA’ OFFICE The Sanita’ Office carried out 27,280 assessments. These figures include initial assessment of new planning applications and re-assessment of revised drawings submitted during all processes including deferrals by the Planning Board Commissions.



Annual Report 2021

Planning Directorate Director - Perit Christopher Borg



In spite of the continuation of several measures associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, significant progress was still registered and a business-as-usual approach prevailed. During 2021, some 47 local funding project contracts were signed with local councils and other organisations which were eligible for funding. Collectively the funding topped




more than €5.7 million. The process associated with these projects was undertaken by the Research and Local Funding (RLF) Team. This year saw a sharp increase in interest from nonLocal Council bodies expressing interest to benefit from Authority funding as well as in a good number of them progressing to the stage where funding contracts were signed. Most of these projects related to improvements in social and community facilities intended to benefit the wider community. An increase was also registered in the number of partnerships associated with specific funding projects. A degree of interest was also shown in the funding of projects which contained the greening element. This aspect was encouraged through the changes in funding rates resulting from the changes effected through Circular 2/20. The implementation of this circular has shown that there was room for further improvement, resulting


Annual Report 2021

in Circular 1/22 which was approved by the Executive Council in December of 2021. All the relevant material for the Authority’s funding through various schemes (including draft contracts and associated documentation) was prepared by FPREAFD staff for consideration by the Authority’s Development Planning Fund Committee. FPREAFD also continued to administratively support the ‘Irrestawra Darek’, ‘Grey to Green’, ‘Valletta balconies’ and ‘Irrestawra l-Kazin’ schemes. The division was also involved in the development of a number of these funding schemes. In terms of international funds, the EU & Multilateral Affairs Unit (EUMA) this year focused on the finalisation of new project ideas for the new EU Funding programming period 2021 – 2027. The Unit also carried out a detailed assessment of the draft Operational Programme for ERDF and ESF Funds which was published for public consultation towards the end of the year. In view of the initiation of the new Programming period for a number of centralised EU Programmes, including Interreg, Horizon Europe and TSI (previously SRSP) funding programmes, EUMA followed up on various information sessions and revisited its project ideas to ensure that they would be in sync with the finalised programmes. In addition, EUMA carried out various partner searches and networking to team up with consortium developing project ideas. Work related to this area facilitated the inclusion of EUMA staff in the Euro geographics Funding Working Group. In terms of implementation, EUMA successfully coordinated the award of an Erasmus+ Accreditation


Annual Report 2021

Charter, which further confirms the prestigious string of successfully, previously implemented Erasmus+ projects. In addition, EUMA continued to coordinate eight other projects (Interreg Europe ThreeT, URBACT Healthy Cities, ESF Spatial Train, ESF PA+, EMFF MSPMED, ERDF Sintegram, Erasmus+ Placeplan, ERDF Valletta Balconies Scheme 2020) and closed the SRSP DG Reform project on IT and a 2018 ERDF Project providing a Scheme for Valletta Balconies.


EUMA was also instrumental in the audit of various EU Funded Projects, providing required documentation and financial information. In total, during 2021, EUMA managed 11 projects with a budget of almost €10 million. With respect to EU and work related to the United



Nations, EUMA coordinated the discussions on proposed EU legislation such as that on the trans-European network for transport, and on the implementation of EU legislation, including the MSP Directive and the EU Urban Agenda. On the latter, EUMA participated in various discussions leading to the adoption of the Ljubljana Agreement which sets the framework for a renewed EU Urban Agenda including the development of four new partnerships. Input was also coordinated in relation to the development of the national network supporting the work of the European Environment Agency. EUMA also provided support in the transfer of the INSPIRE Directive from MITA to the Authority, followed by the initiation of the coordination process of this dossier. With respect to implementation of EU legislation, work initiated on the transposition of Directive 2021/1187 on streamlining measures for advancing the realisation of the trans-European transport network into national


Annual Report 2021

legislation, the annual report on PCIs was submitted to the EU Commission and the UN Urban Agenda National Implementation Report and the ICZM Biennial Report were submitted to the UN. Finally, an assessment of various other sectoral policy documents was carried out, to ensure that aspects related to planning are taken into account in other sectors at EU level. Topics ranged from Artificial Intelligence, the Soil Strategy, the Aarhus Convention, environmental noise and the Landscape Convention. The Divsion was also entrusted with the leadership of the post-public consultation process associated with the Light Pollution Reduction Guidance which is jointly developed between the Environment and Resources Authority and the Planning Authority. The draft document generated significant public interest. A considerable number of submissions originated from a number of prominent NGOs as well as University experts in the field. This feedback also spurred significant updates to the draft issued for public consultation in 2020. The process included consultation related to Green Public Procurement (GPP) Guidance revision on the aspect of light pollution. In October 2021, the revised GPP document was approved and for the first time, light pollution reduction considerations were included. It is intended that by the first semester of 2022, a draft would be ready for internal discussions, following which the process would be triggered for externalisation leading to the approval of this document


Annual Report 2021


During the year, HPU continued to process hundreds of applications pertaining to five Grant Schemes, namely Irrestawra Darek Grant Schemes (2017, 2018 and 2019); Irrestawra l-Faċċata Grant Scheme; Irrestawra l-Kazin; Green your Building Grant Scheme, the Refund of Stamp Duty and exemption of Planning fees for applications in UCAs and Scheduled buildings. Support to the Development Management Directorate continued through advice on heritage proposals in development applications, recommendations for the release of bank guarantees related to restoration and monitoring inspections. HPU continued to provide support to the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH) in relation to Scheduling and Conservation of buildings and the maintenance of the scheduled property register and website. The HPU also represented the Authority on the National World Heritage Sites Technical Committee and at the Conservation Standards Committee. A project proposal has been formulated for the upgrading of Heritage Data Management System to incorporate data and metadata standardization in accordance with INSPIRE – overhauling the entire database.

GREEN AND BLUE DEVELOPMENT UNIT (GBDU) As part of the SPED review process, the GBDU obtained funding to pilot test the Land Sea Interaction Assessment Methodology developed by PAP/RAC. This exercise,


Annual Report 2021

carried out with the Maritime Spatial Plan (MSP) Technical Committee provided useful insights on how the revised SPED, as Malta’s next MSP, is to address the use of marine space. Within the scope of the EU funded project MSPMED, a public survey to assess marine use in Malta, was conducted. The findings confirm the important role that the sea has with the public, and sheds insights on the public’s perception of what the future potential could be for the surroundings of the Maltese islands and will be incorporated in the review process of the SPED. In 2021 the SEA and AA processes were finalised. Based on this, revisions were made to the Solar Farms Policy and these were subsequently adopted. A draft policy document and draft discussion paper on Green Infrastructure and spatial planning were prepared. The GBDU provided technical input for the preparation of schemes supporting the uptake of Green Infrastructure through green walls and reinstatement of front gardens. The unit also provided technical support for the preparation of the Urban Greening Conference.

STRATEGIC PLANNING UNIT (SPU) During 2021, the SPU continued work on the SPED review and has progressed work on an Urban Development Capacity Study, an Audit of the SPED 2015 Policies as well as a review of Government Policies. External consultants have also conducted studies on the topics of demography, employment and housing. These studies examine future potential development scenarios in preparation for the updated National Spatial Strategy (NSS). Also, in preparation for the NSS, another tender was also


Annual Report 2021

prepared to engage consultants to carry out the Strategic Environmental Assessment as required by law.


During 2021, the Unit finalised five partial local plan


reviews – two for the Central Malta Local Plan, two for the


South Malta Local Plan and one for the Northwest Local


Plan, a Development Brief for the ex-Jerma Hotel site, as well as the revisions to the Ta’ Qali Action Plan. Following the receipt of government objectives in November, SPU also commenced reviewing the Grand Harbour Local Plan



for an extensive part of Marsa. During 2021, the Unit received 11 planning control applications for changes to zoning of sites and referred the same number of applications to the Executive Council for its consideration. Another 61 planning control applications proposing changes to alignment were received and 58 were referred for a decision. As



part of the ongoing Development Planning Application Monitoring Programme, the Unit analysed more than 12,000 permissions for development to collate information of development trends for further analysis and to assist strategic planning.



Annual Report 2021

Compliance and Enforcement Directorate Director - Perit Raphael Axiak Notwithstanding the difficult circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has continued throughout 2021, the Compliance and Enforcement Directorate was still expected to monitor, regulate, and enforce the obligations of the Authority, as required by the Development Planning Act (2016) and the subsidiary legislations. The pandemic did not deter the activities associated with the construction industry. As part of a longer-term strategy, the Directorate had already transitioned to a paperless working environment prior to the pandemic, whereby printing of documents was already limited to the bare minimum. This enabled staff to continue to work remotely not only from home but also from the office and on-site during inspections. Officers were also still required to take all the necessary precautions as instructed by the health authorities. The Directorate continued to strengthen its operations to ensure that the caseload was dealt with more efficiently and effectively, in spite of the pandemic.

COMMENCEMENT NOTICES The Development Planning Act requires the digital submission of a commencement notice prior to the utilisation of a permission or prior to the commencement of works for each of the Authority’s permitting structures. The commencement notice specifies a commencement


Annual Report 2021



date which is crucial for monitoring purposes by the Directorate’s officers. During 2021, the Directorate received a total of 8,917 commencement notices, which represents a decrease of 8.5% from the previous year. In total, 5,911 commencement

8,917 8.5% DECREASE


notices related to the planning application permissions; 1,807 notices related to RG permissions; 915 notices related to DN permissions; and 284 notices related to DS consents. Each commencement notice was vetted to ensure that it had been validly submitted. If the commencement notice was not submitted, or if it was submitted but invalid, any


development carried out would be illegal.






The Directorate proactively monitors ongoing



development, with the aim of limiting abuse, promoting self-compliance by the developers, and where necessary initiate enforcement action expeditiously. Digital technologies such as tablets and smart phones are extensively used by officers to access information remotely and resolve issues immediately. Ongoing monitoring leads to fewer issues at compliance certification stage, rendering the whole process more streamlined for developers and occupants of individual units. During 2021, the officers of the Directorate carried out more than 7,100 registered inspections to monitor ongoing works in relation to permissions issued by the Authority. In addition, during the same year, the Directorate conducted another 6,300 registered site inspections, which included those relating to complaints and enforcement notices. This means that, despite the restrictions caused by the


Annual Report 2021

pandemic, officers still managed to conduct over 50 site inspections per working day throughout the year.




The PlotGIS system created a direct link between an application for development permission, submitted by an applicant, and any enforcement notice on the site, which is either pending or closed but on which fines and/or fees are



due. In this regard, the Directorate’s response to PlotGIS queries has facilitated the recuperation of pending fines and fees since applications would not be processed and/or determined prior to the settlement of such dues. Throughout 2021, the Directorate maintained constant and timely feedback on planning applications and PlotGIS queries by providing a response to 1,841 requests. This represents a 33% increase over the number of queries of



the previous year, when the system was launched.

COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATION During 2021, the Directorate received 11,977 requests for compliance certificates. This represented an increase of 936 (8.5%) requests over the previous year. The processing of such requests requires site inspections by officers, and these inspections continued uninterrupted throughout the ongoing pandemic. The increase in the number of requests for compliance certificates was a reflection of the number of units constructed and finished during 2021. This increase was possibly caused by the tax incentives introduced by government, to counteract the effects of the pandemic, and which had to be availed of by the end of 2021.


Annual Report 2021

COMPLAINTS REGARDING ALLEGED ILLEGAL DEVELOPMENTS During 2021, the Directorate received 3,192 complaints from various sources, alleging illegal development. This represents a decrease of 121 complaints when compared to the previous year. Following investigations, the Authority found that in 59% of the cases, reported by complainants, illegal development was carried out. To address such infringements, the property owner/ occupier submitted a sanctioning application in 663 cases. On the other hand, in 47% of the complaints where illegal development was identified, the contraveners themselves complied or removed the illegal development, prior to further action being taken by the Directorate. During the same period, the Directorate was compelled to issue 131 enforcement notices resulting directly from complaints received.

STOP AND ENFORCEMENT NOTICES In line with the Directorate’s overall objectives, every effort was made to solve cases in an amicable manner without the need to resort to formal enforcement action. However, where abuse persisted and cooperation from contraveners was not forthcoming, stop and enforcement notices were issued. During 2021, in total the Authority issued 164 stop and enforcement notices representing a decrease of just 5 notices from the previous year. This is in-line with the Directorate’s strategy to resolve infringements


Annual Report 2021

by addressing them through other means which are more efficient, rather than by the issuing enforcement notices. Almost 65% of the notices issued were subject to daily fines, which act as a positive deterrent against contraveners to address the infringements in the shortest possible timeframe. A total of 417 stop and enforcement notices were closed off, of which 202 were the result of permissions granted to sanction the illegal development. A further 149 enforcement notices were closed since the illegal development was removed by the contravener.


Annual Report 2021


Annual Report 2021

ICT, Mapping and Digital Services Directorate Director: Ing Stephen Ferrito The past year has been yet another challenging year, the former part of which was a continuation of the pandemic situation lingering on from 2020, with the latter seeing the country slowly returning to normality and with the return of all members of staff to our offices. This was not only challenging at a Directorate level, where we organized ourselves in ways to minimize health risks but also on our ICT infrastructure and personnel that now needed to cater for the new digital working practices to a much larger extent, even from our offices. Whilst some clients appreciate physical meetings, the digital services introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic have become greatly appreciated and cannot be stopped. Surveys have indicated that clients prefer a hybrid approach, offering both digital services due to their convenience both logistically and for time management purposes whilst being able to meet physically, when the clients involved are less digitally oriented. This was the challenge faced by all Directorates, but especially the ICT, Mapping and Digital Services which ensures that the right infrastructure, personnel and support are in place to maintain such hybrid systems. Over the last year, this aim was fully achieved, and the Authority has been operating in a hybrid manner. The Operations Section continues to be of support not only to external clients but also to all other Units within the Authority.


Annual Report 2021

CUSTOMER CARE UNIT The Customer Care Unit dealt with over 122,000 phone calls, some 80,000 of which related directly to enquiry





issues and over 5,000 to enforcement complaints. Coupled with this, the Unit also dealt with 24,000 emails and letters. The service given at the Front Desk, even during the worst periods of the pandemic, included the taking on of new digital services. Such services were continually supported by the Records Retention and Digitisation Team together with contractor, MaltaPost p.l.c. through the Document Management System Project managed by Jobsplus.

VETTING & PLOTTING In 2021, some 10,127 planning applications, 1,422 Development Notification Orders and 1,764 Regularisation








applications, totaling 13,313 were plotted. An increase of 2.1% over the previous year. This averages a turnaround of just three days. In addition, Operations continually dealt with a considerable amount of re-publications due to changes in proposals, locations, site sizes, amongst other reasons. Mailroom staff supported all Units within the Authority by uploading information relating to more than 17,000 third-party objections and printing in excess of 80,000 development planning related plans / drawings apart from distributing all snail mail received by the Authority.

2.1% 32

Annual Report 2021

OPERATIONS OFFICE The Operations office continually supports various clients, including Periti, with the many issues they may encounter during their interaction with the Authority and its systems. The office continued to offer support to all other Authority Units in procedural and systems related problems encountered during their day-to-day work whilst providing relevant statistics and reporting to the various stakeholders.

GEOMATICS SECTION During 2021 the Geomatics Section has continued to establish itself as an important and integral part of, not only the Directorate, but also the whole Authority delivering important key services to our external clients.

MAPPING UNIT During 2021, the Mapping Unit completed the basemap update process for Gozo and initiated the process for Malta by covering the urban settlements in the northwest of the island. The Information Resources Unit completed around 438 drone missions, carried out by fully licensed pilots, to enable the data collection for the basemap update. In addition, eight localities were scanned using the terrestrial laser scanner.


Annual Report 2021

LAND SURVEYING UNIT The Land Surveying Unit in collaboration with the Alignment Interpretation Unit carried out around 2,500 setting outs on site and 168 topographical surveys covering 746,000 m² of territory. The ongoing process of updating the alignments of all localities to be in line with the approved local plans and reflecting changes in PC permits and local plans continued. In addition, the Alignment Interpretation Unit processed around 1,700 internal consultations on alignment related queries.

DATA HARMONISATION AND STANDARDISATION UNIT The Data Harmonisation and Standardisation Unit completed the administrative and technical handover of the Maltese competency of the INSPIRE Directive from MITA to the Authority. The responsibility of the portfolio was assumed as of June 2021 with attendance to regular meetings of the Committee, the MIG and the MIGT which cover the legislative, administrative and technical aspects of the Directive. The Unit proceeded with the sensitisation of Government bodies to the SIntegraM portal with around 125 datasets being uploaded on the portal. This portal has the scope of facilitating the sharing of spatial data.

INFORMATION RESOURCES UNIT The Information Resources Unit maintained an active presence within the Copernicus programme through attendance and preparation of Malta positions, with


Annual Report 2021

the ESPON framework, and fulfilled all obligations related to the role of NRC for Land Cover as part of the implementation of the EEA service contract. The Unit also processed Spatial data requests and disseminated the SIntegraM project outputs and was also responsible for the analysis of strategies related to digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence.

INTERNSHIPS In collaboration with MCAST various internships were initiated in the fields of Mapping, IR, 3D modelling and Surveying. This important step ensures that the necessary investment in ensuring an upskilled and dynamic specialised human resource element is maintained and follows the highly successful collaboration between the ICT Unit and various higher educational entities.

ICT UNIT The Authority cannot function without the necessary ICT infrastructure, thus, ensuring continuity is a top priority. Investment in ICT systems, hardware, network and security systems with state-of-the-art technology is continuous. Whilst investing in the best security systems available is important, the ICT Unit continues to organize regular Cyber Security Awareness Training to all personnel. The ICT hardware section dealt with over 2,700 phone calls reporting various ICT issues, 60% of which were dealt with in less than 3 hours.


Annual Report 2021

During 2021, the Authority programmed and launched the URBACT Healthy Cities, Senglea Mobile App, digitally supported various incentive schemes such ‘Irrestawra l-Faċċata’, ‘Irrestawra l-Każin’ and ‘Green Your Building’, supported other governmental agencies through the development of operational portals which will be in use in the near future, programming a new eApps portal, which is due to be launched in 2022. Furthermore, the Unit worked on the architecture and setup of a new geographic information centralized multiserver system with additional server roles to expand the base deployment, and the programming and launch of the MapServer. This new experience was provided with Web GI Systems.




Annual Report 2021

Corporate Services Directorate Director: Kevin Portelli

HUMAN RESOURCES UNIT The past year, as was the case with 2020 has been characterised by the covid-19 pandemic. This shaped the way the Authority carried out its operations. In this respect, throughout the year the Unit continued to act as the Authority’s focal point with the Health Authorities and continued to oversee the smooth running of a number of mitigation measures. These included reviewing the various guidelines issued to employees. The unit also kept liaising with COVID-19 contact tracing and identification of employees who came in contact with positive cases, and was responsible for administering quarantine leave and encouraging the uptake of the vaccine by employees. A key function of the Unit is manpower planning and capacity building. The restructuring of certain directorates, together with the momentum gained in the review of the structure plan, triggered changes to the manpower demands which merited revisions to the 2021 HR plans and the relative approvals. Throughout 2021, the Unit issued 22 internal and 20 external calls for application, and subsequently processed 267 applications through shortlisting and video-conference interviews. These applications have resulted in the issue of 57 appointments and the recruitment of 20 new employees. Talent capturing and employer branding initiatives undertaken during the year included the sponsorship of 9 MCAST apprentices, who are pursuing their studies in


Annual Report 2021

ICT and Construction Engineering. The Authority offered job exposure opportunities to 3 MITA students and 20 summer students. This also enabled the Authority to strengthen its presence in the employment market to ensure a wider talent capture pool. When there was a need for specific skills in specialised areas and where the acquisition of an ideal skillset dictated a combination of theoretical background and years of practical experience, the Authority engaged in employee loan agreements with other government organisations. During 2021, 10 Authority employees reading for a degree in Spatial Planning, proceeded to the fourth year of their studies. The course is fully sponsored by the Authority. Sixteen employees progressed to higher grades, in line with the Authority’s succession planning strategy to encourage the fulfilling of enhanced responsibilities and career advancement practices.




Special arrangements were made with a number of eye clinics across the island, so that eye tests for VDU users were carried out, on a voluntary basis, at a clinic of the employee’s choice. To ensure a safe and healthy environment and mitigate workplace risks, the Unit together with Health and Safety Consultant embarked on the revision of various health and safety policies including cable management, risk assessments for pregnant employees and workstation assessment. These are currently being evaluated and are expected to be implemented by the second quarter of 2022. The Unit has assisted the Support Services section and the Health and Safety consultant in the revision of the premises evacuation plan following alterations in the layout of the main building.


Annual Report 2021

In its efforts to provide personnel with equipment to protect them from hazards which they may encounter in their line of duty, the Unit co-ordinated the provision of personal protective equipment, ranging from safety apparel to sunscreen lotion. The Unit co-ordinated the regular maintenance of the five AEDs located around the Authority’s premises including the replacement of old batteries and expired AED pads. The Unit embarked on a review of the major policies regulating employees, including the remote working policy, the social media policy, and its dress code. The revised policies are expected to be rolled out in the second quarter of 2022.

PROCUREMENT During 2021, the Authority published and awarded a number of tenders for the provision of services and supplies to the Authority. These included tenders for the provision of consultancy services for the preparation of studies for the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development (SPED) Review 2020, the procurement of network equipment to upgrade the Authority’s ICT infrastructure, and the provision of a training course in strategic policy making to build the capacity of Authority’s employees in land-use planning procedures. Within the year, the Authority awarded and started implementing new contracts for cleaning services, architecture and building conservation consultancy services, and PR and marketing consultancy services. The Authority started to work on various other service and supply tenders, including the provision of professional


Annual Report 2021

services to carry out a works project at the Enforcement and Link Blocks, supply of notebooks and workstations, and consultancy services for a strategic environment assessment and an appropriate assessment for the National Spatial Strategy, which will result in contracts to be awarded during 2022. The Authority, also, negotiated service and supply contracts to renew ICT software licenses and service level agreements, to upgrade the Authority’s ICT firewall security, to procure specialised land surveying equipment, and to obtain legal services.

SUPPORT SERVICES SECTION During the year 2021, the Support Services section reviewed the Authority’s maintenance programme and updated agreements for access control, air conditioning systems, heat pumps, fire extinguishers, elevators, UPS, and the generator. To ensure the safety of car users, the whole fleet was equipped with fire extinguishers and first aid kits. To guarantee a more timely response to users’ needs, employees’ requests started to be logged electronically, facilitating follow-up of execution. Support Services extended its contribution to the Authority’s commitment to the implementation of COVID-19 mitigation measures, through the following actions:


Annual Report 2021

• procurement and distribution of personal protective

equipment, including masks, visors, hand sanitizing liquid, and disposable gloves; • regular cleaning and replacement of air conditioning

system filters in all the PA buildings; • regular and documented cleaning of common areas,

reception areas, toilets and kitchens; • measurement of body temperature at all entry points; • sanitisation of offices where cases of infection or close

contact with a case have been reported; • regular and documented cleaning of pool cars; • installation of acrylic shields in all offices and

boardrooms. The Unit also carried out various maintenance works as part of its ongoing maintenance programme and coordinated various refurbishment works in offices and meeting rooms, whilst seeing to the everyday needs of the various sections within the Authority. These included: • garden maintenance works; • water-proofing works and replacing of old membrane

on main block roof; • refurbishment of the mapping, land surveying and

information resources offices; • painting and maintenance of offices; • replaced water pumps and flush valves as part of the

“water - be the change” campaign; • installed under sink water heaters; • reconciled and updated physical and access control

office door numbering.


Annual Report 2021

FINANCE UNIT During 2021, the Finance Unit took up a number of initiatives directed at further improving the quality of service provided to its customers and suppliers. These initiatives included the continued promotion of its online fee payment services for customers and streamlined the processes that allowed the Unit to continue in the execution of its functions through remote working. The Unit adopted more efficient and detailed reporting of its financial information, through the further simplification and automation of internal processes and upgraded its payments module enabling it to effect direct credit payments to the Authority’s various suppliers During the year, the Authority made further investments in Malta Government Stocks to save negative interest on bank deposits and maximise interest return. The Unit assisted in the various schemes administered by the Authority. This included regular reporting on the ‘Development Planning Fund’ and the ‘Irrestawra Darek Schemes’, ongoing provision of accounting services to EU and Multilateral Affairs in relation to EU funding claims, and the timely processing of refunds on overpaid, withdrawn and refused applications for development permits.

DEBT COLLECTION OFFICE In 2021, the Debt Collection Office proceeded with its collection efforts for the recovery of amounts due to the Authority on daily fines, direct action costs, credit agreements with developers paying their permit


Annual Report 2021

application fees by instalments, and other debts. The Office reviewed a number of credit agreements, suspending repayments and extending the repayment period for clients having financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regular vetting of enforcement files was carried out by the Office to ensure the accurate and timely issue of daily fines invoices by the Finance Unit and mitigate any future recovery issues. During 2021, the Debt Collection Office processed 278 invoices for daily fines and direct enforcement action, issued 199 Ittri Bonarji and issued 27 Judicial Letters. The Office also provided regular assistance to the Legal Office and the Enforcement Directorate in cases where executive judicial letters have been contested in Court, in drawing up affidavits and administering oaths, and in petitions for compromise penalties before the Executive Council. During the year, the Debt Collection Office provided its assistance to the Enforcement Directorate in 43 petitions against daily fines before the Executive Council. The Office drew up affidavits and administered oaths to 24 enforcement officers summoned by the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, as also to other Authority staff requiring sworn declarations as required. The Office was called in to assist the Appeals Team during sittings on appeals from enforcement notices, appeals from refusals of development permit applications, and appeals by third parties, which are reviewed by the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal.



Annual Report 2021

Council, Boards and Committees EXECUTIVE COUNCIL

Chairperson Mr Martin Saliba

Members Ms Carmen Buttigieg Mr Martin Camilleri Perit Vincent Cassar Prof Saviour Formosa Ms Sharon Mifsud (resigned on 01st December 2021) Perit Michelle Piccinino

Secretary Ms Yoanne Muscat


Chairperson Perit Vincent Cassar

Deputy Chairperson Mr Martin Camilleri


Annual Report 2021

Independent Members Mr Joseph Brincat Mr Gilmour Camilleri (replaced by Ms Sharon Mifsud on 09th December 2021) Dr Chris Cilia Mr Sean Mangion (replaced by Ms Kerstin Ancilleri on 05th November 2021)

Representative of Environment NGOs Ms Annick Bonello

ERA Representative Prof Victor Axiak

Public Officers Mr Saviour Debono Grech Mr Omar Vella (replaced by Mr Bryan Degabriele on the 9th December 2021) Perit Duncan Mifsud

Secretary Ms Yoanne Muscat


Annual Report 2021


Chairperson Perit Claude Mallia

Members Perit Anthony Camilleri Ms Stephania Baldacchino

Supplementary Member Perit Mireille Fsadni

Secretary Ms Lorna Vella


Chairperson Mr Martin Camilleri

Members Mr Anthony Borg Mr Frank Ivan Caruana Catania

Supplementary Member Mr Carmel Caruana


Annual Report 2021

Secretary Ms Monica Gauci


Chairperson Perit Elizabeth Ellul

Members Dr Charles F Grech Dr Pierre Hili

Secretary Ms Claudine Faure


Chairperson Dr David Mallia

Members: Perit Kevin Fsadni Dr Charlene Vella

Secretary Mr Eugenio Delceppo


Annual Report 2021


Chairperson Mr James Gauci

Members Ms Marcelle Aguis Dr Duncan Chetcuti Ganado Mr Charles Spiteri Mr Neville Muscat Mr Sandro Sammut Mr Joseph Zammit

Secretary Mr Eugenio Delceppo


Chairperson Perit Vincent Cassar

Members Chev. Paul Farrugia Perit Frans Mallia Dr David Mallia Perit Rita Vella

Secretary Mr Enzo Cachia


Annual Report 2021


Chairperson Dr Edward Woods

Members Ms Marie Barbara Ms Astrid Vella Perit Martin Debono Mr Christian Vassallo Perit Simone Vella Lenicker Mr Mario Fava Mr Sandro Chetcuti Mr David Xuereb Mr David Mifsud

Secretary Ms Doris Farrugia


Annual Report 2021

List of Images The Images reproduced in this Report are the winning projects of the 2020 Malta Architecture & Spatial Planning Awards.

Page 4 ICI HQ, Central Business District, Birkirkara 3DM Architecture Emerging Architects Award Page 10 Demicoli & Associates Tipico Building, St. Julians Commercial & Public Buildings Award Page 16 Martin Xuereb & Associates Piazzetta, Sliema Public Open Space Award Page 24 3DM Architecture The King George & Berta, Għargħur Hospitality Tourism Accommodation and Leisure Award Page 29 Atmosphere Design Kappara Villa Makeover, Kappara Interior Architecture Award for Residential Projects 53

Annual Report 2021

Page 30 MED Design Gozo Innovation Hub, Xewkija Sustainability Award Page 36 Camilleri Paris Mode Design and Projects Studio Villa La Fiorentina, Attard Rehabilitation and Conservation Award Page 37 Chris Briffa Architects Casa Bottega, Valletta Urban Design Award Page 38 Studjurban Community and Nature, Child Care Centre, Mosta Interior Architecture Award for Commercial and Public Building Project Page 46 Daniela Spiteri Binett A village amidst the landscape, Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq Urban Planning Concept Award


St Francis Ravelin, Floriana, FRN 1230, Malta

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