VRS – Verified photomontages as per Planning Authority guidelines

Date: 20 October, 2016


The Planning Authority has published a best practice guide for visual simulations that are an integral part of the planning process. With the formulation of these new guidelines the Authority is confident that the processing and evaluation of planning applications and associated studies will be enhanced and of a higher quality.

The new guidelines set standards for the way visualisations of proposed buildings and other structures, which are requested during the assessment of planning applications, are prepared, presented and used. This will ensure that the visualisations are clearly and easily understood; that they are accessible to the public; and that they could be relied upon by all those involved in the planning process to inform their judgement.

The methodologies advocated in these guidelines are based on a combination of land‐based surveying, LIDAR data, on‐site photography and the production of accurate computer‐generated three dimensional (3D) models. These guidelines do not cover other methods of visualisation such as hand‐drawn sketches, computer animation, video montage, and physical models.

PA Chairman Perit Vincent Cassar said “Visualisations are an essential tool to represent a proposed change or addition to a landscape. They form any integral part of the design and planning application process thereby improving communication between all stakeholders within the planning process and improving decision making. While important for architects, urban designers, planners, case officers, decision makers, consultees, and those involved in producing visual simulations, these guidelines will secure that visualisations are technically accurate and credible.”

While all planning applications which require an Environmental Planning Statement (EPS) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) shall conform to the requirements set out in these guidelines, a proportionate approach, depending on the size and context, of other proposed development applications,will be adopted when requesting a visualisation study. It is within MEPA’s prerogative to determine at the initial stages of the application whether a Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV) map is required, the number of viewpoints, the level of detail of the 3D model and whether single frame images only as opposed to also having panorama images, will suffice. This document was brought into force on the 1st March 2016.

To view the best practice guide for visual simulations click here.