Every few months we learn that a conditional approval has been given by the authorities for yet another high-rise building in Limassol. These developments have to meet a host of requirements set by the authorities before a final permit is issued, but seem to have no great difficulty meeting them, considering five have secured the necessary approvals.
Limassol municipality has voiced some objections and homeowners living close to planned developments have gone to court in an attempt to stop construction, but unsuccessfully. The Anastasiades government has fully supported these developments as they bring money into the economy – most flats are sold to foreigners – provide the big developers with much needed revenue and create jobs.
While the benefits to the economy are obvious there are other factors the government completely ignores. For instance, have Limassolians been asked if they want the seafront being blocked by high-rises? Have any public consultations been held about the radical changes to the appearance and the character of the town? Do they want their town to be turned into a centre of half-empty high-rise blocks that improve their quality of life in no obvious way?
It appears little thought has been given to the consequences of this new trend by the government, its only concern being for money to keep flowing into the economy. And because there is no measure in Cyprus when we stumble on a money-making idea – shabby tourist resorts, stock-market, holiday homes – it is entirely possible that Limassol could eventually become a high-rise city that nobody will want to live in.
Have the practicalities of having all the tower blocks in the town centre been considered? For instance, the environment department is concerned about the sewage system, which does not have the capacity to cope with hundreds of new residences in the centre of the town. Has the government addressed this issue, or will it deal with it when the problem is unmanageable. How will traffic congestion, which is already a big problem in the town centre, be dealt with?
As usual, nothing has been thought through and no studies about how the high-rises will impact on the existing infrastructure of the town have been carried out. Everything is being left to chance because big amounts of money are being made from the latest fad – developers are already boasting about doing brisk trade and selling luxury apartments on plan – and nobody seems willing to speak out and question what is happening. Limassol Municipality has a responsibility to raise the issue and seek explanations for the government’s random policy.