All Gibraltar Government projects will have to be cleared by the Development and Planning Commission [DPC] under a proposed overhaul of planning legislation.
While major government projects are currently placed before the DPC, the Commission’s advice is not binding as is the case with private projects.
Under a draft Town Planning Bill published by the Government, public projects will in future have to go through the planning process in the same way as private applications, although there will be some exceptions for urgent schemes in the public interest.
The proposal also sets out the circumstances in which government projects must include public feedback as part of the process.
The draft legislation, which has yet to be debated and approved by the Gibraltar Parliament, sets out a number of additional changes of note.
Under the proposal, interior works that do not impact on the external appearance of a building will no longer normally require planning permission, although they will still require Building Control Approval under building regulations.
The draft legislation also ensures public participation periods are expressed in terms of working days in the new draft bill.
“This addresses the issue which has arisen in the past where public participation has taken place over extended holiday periods and the public has not had access to our offices to view applications,” said a spokesman for Town Planning.
“This, together with the availability of all applications online – which has been in place now for a number of years – will ensure easy access to application details for the public.”
The new legislation, once approved, also gives a person who has made representations to the Commission the right to be heard by the Commission.
Where an application is one that requires public participation then the period of public participation would start only after the Department of Town Planning and Building Control have validated the application.
“This avoids the current issue where applicants sometimes publicise their applications before submission of the application to the Department and therefore the public cannot view the application as it has not yet been submitted,” said the spokesman.
Another proposal would give a provision for applicants to apply for minor amendments to a scheme that has been previously approved.
The draft bill also includes the proposal of having the meetings of the Development Appeals Tribunal to be held in public, with an exception when it would not be in the public interest to do so.
The proposed legislation also gives the Commission the ability to serve an Enforcement Notice on a person who is in breach of planning control. It is an offence for a person not to comply with the terms of an Enforcement Notice.
“This addresses the issue under the current legislation where the first step in enforcing the law is to criminally prosecute the person in the Courts and only then could the Commission serve an Enforcement notice,” the spokesman said.
“The new Act will enable action to be taken more quickly and reversion to the courts will only be necessary if the person does not comply with the Enforcement notice.”
Another proposed change is the introduction of a power allowing control over the painting of buildings.