By Angelos Anastasiou
A LONDON-BASED town-planning consultancy has been commissioned by the Nicosia municipality in a bid to back its objection to the proposed expansion of the Mall of Cyprus, it emerged on Monday.
According to the consultancy’s report, dated January 6, the municipality’s instructions were to “provide advice in relation to retail impact issues arising from the proposals for the extension of the Mall of Cyprus in Latsia”.
Last December, the Nicosia municipality had made public its objections to the planned expansion, arguing that it would significantly impact commercial activity in the city’s centre – a traditional hub of retail business.
The Mall of Cyprus, a ground-breaking project by Cypriot standards, was inaugurated in September 2007, and features 27,000 squared metres of commercial space.
ITTL, the company behind the Mall, filed for an expansion permit with the Derogations Council, asking to be allowed to build an additional 5,000 squared metres, to be used as commercial space, parking areas, and a cultural centre, at a cost of €25 million.
But the Nicosia municipality raised a formal objection during a council-organised public consultation, citing the Nicosia Master Plan, which includes provisions aimed at incentivising the “growth of the city centre”.
But the report of the British consultancy made a different point, arguing that the conclusions arrived at by ITTL via a mathematical commercial distribution model in applying for the expansion are “fundamentally flawed in a number of key aspects” and significantly under-predicted the impact of the Mall’s extension on other commercial hubs in Nicosia.
The first such flaw identified was that the model estimates impact on expenditure in each area solely on the basis of total floor space available, ignoring “other key factors” that significantly determine the attractiveness of each area – such key factors, the report said, include how modern the facilities are, the choice and quality of brands and outlets available, and the availability of free parking.
The second shortcoming in ITTL’s approach, according to the report, was its failure to estimate the likely impact of the proposed expansion on other areas – including the city centre – with any accuracy. Again, the calculation was made based on existing retail floor space in each area – a simplistic approach, the report noted, arguing that impact is likely to vary in each area according to qualitative criteria, like location and degree of direct competition with retail facilities found at the Mall of Cyprus.
The report concluded that the potential impact of the expansion proposals for the Mall on surrounding areas could spike to between 4 and 5 per cent, in contrast to 2 per cent estimated by ITTL.
The Nicosia municipality forwarded the study to the Derogations Council on January 22, in a bid to strengthen its case against the Mall’s expansion.
“The municipality has tabled its arguments – they will be reviewed, but not necessarily adopted,” a source from the Council told the Cyprus Mail.
The Derogations Council’s will submit its recommendation to the Council of Ministers, which will issue a final ruling on the proposed expansion.