Greater vigilance will be exercised when assessing and determining proposed development applications which fall in close proximity to a scheduled building or monument, the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning Aaron Farrugia announced.
This approach is being adopted after the Planning Authority published clearer guidelines on how to identify, interpret, and treat the context of scheduled buildings.
These guidelines seek to safeguard the context and setting of sites that carry heritage value.
During a visit to Villa Frere, a site which was recently granted Grade 1 protection by the Planning Authority, Minister Aaron Farrugia said that the concept of intelligent planning also requires us to protect scheduled buildings and monuments. “This is the reason we are launching these clear guidelines for workers, the Board, Commissions, and case officers to refer to when making decisions. These sites very often have historic value. This is a heritage passed on from our forefathers and it is our duty to pass them on to upcoming generations. Intelligent planning is planning which is forward-looking,” Minister Farrugia said.
The Planning Directorate, when assessing a development application that is in close proximity to a scheduled building/monument must at screening stage or following the validation of the application identify the proximity of the setting of the scheduled property, make a detailed assessment of the impacts of the proposed development on the protected building and identify the mitigation measures to be taken. This assessment process must be supported by recommendations made by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH).
Once the extent of the context is established on the recommendations of the SCH, an applicant will be required to provide the Planning Directorate with a complete photographic inventory and “character appraisal” of the context.
To further assess the visual implications and potential impacts on the scheduled building, photomontages from strategic viewpoints will also be required.
The SCH has the right to request that submitted drawings should include streetscapes showing full details of the adjoining buildings and existing street levels. The streetscape elevations should span across side streets when sites near or at corners are being proposed for development.
The proposed architectural design should not only respect the context but should also aim to blend in with the surroundings. HPU will assess these cases prior to validation and determine whether the submission has satisfied the relevant criteria to enable adequate evaluation during processing any other information deemed necessary.
Martin Saliba, Chairperson of the PA’s Executive Council said “Each scheduled building is located within a spatial context with which it relates to in different aspects. The setting is, therefore, an essential part of the building and how it is experienced.” He added “For this reason, the spatial context deserves specific attention. These procedural guidelines better spell out how we intend not to compromise our built cultural heritage.”