By Peter Stevenson
PAPHOS Municipality and Aristo Ktimatiki Ltd will go head to head in court on Friday to decide the future of a historic house in the old town which has already been partly demolished.
Crews began demolishing the building last Friday and were set to finish the job on Monday before outraged locals, Paphos Mayor Savvas Vergas, deputy mayor Makis Roussis and police managed to step in forcing them to stop.
An interim order was secured by the municipality and both sides will meet in court on Friday.
The house which belonged to former Mayor Iacovos Iacovides was built in the 1940s and is situated behind the town hall and is opposite the municipal gardens. It was purchased at the end of 2012 by Aristo Ktimatiki Ltd who began demolishing it on Friday despite not having a permit from the municipality’s town planning department.
Head of the town planning department Phedonas Phedonos labelled the building’s demolition as ‘illegal’.
“Even if there was the possibility of making the building a landmark that has now disappeared due to its demolition,” he said.
Paphos Municipality released a statement on Monday and explained that it had rejected Aristo Ktimatiki’s application to demolish the building as it was part of a specially protected area where buildings of a certain style had been built.
“The specific building may not have been landmarked but we have reported the incident to police and have secured an interim order although the building has already been mostly demolished unfortunately,” Roussis told the Cyprus Mail.
The deputy mayor said he believes Aristo were attempting to take advantage of a period when the courts are shut and most people are on holiday by demolishing the building under the municipality’s nose. Roussis said the demolition was specifically planned to take place on August 16, a day after one of the island’s biggest national holidays.
“Businesses and businessmen need to respect the cultural heritage of Paphos because we need to protect the town’s character which helps make it a more attractive destination,” he added.
Managing director of Aristo Ktimatiki, Theodoros Aristodemou denied any wrong-doing on his company’s behalf claiming the building had begun falling apart following a recent fire.
Speaking to the state broadcaster, he questioned whether the municipality would have reacted in the same way if the building had collapsed and killed any of the young people who use it as a hangout.
Aristodemou added that the company established the building was not listed after it had been purchased.
Aristodemou said that he was confident justice would prevail and revealed that in 1994 the municipality had its application to have the building listed rejected.
The €1.0 million purchase agreement took place in October last year, and the property was transferred in January this year. Aristodemou said the building was crumbling but the council had not responded to an April 29 application to demolish it.