Cyprus Mail

Mixed reaction to planning relaxations

Interior minister Socratis Hasikos

By Andria Kades

NEW measures to boost the construction industry announced by Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos were met with a plethora of reactions yesterday.

Technical Chamber of Cyprus head Stelios Ahniotis welcomed the move saying it was a step in the right direction that would boost the economy helping average citizens and business persons alike.

The measures include legalising construction works in existing industrial and commercial units that would normally be deemed illegal such as changing verandas to rooms or building garages or sheds.

Citizens will be able to add up to 20 per cent of the building coefficient to their home until December 2020 however the last application must be submitted to the town planning authority a year in advance. It will have three months to issue a permit.

“They can add a small flat above their home, add a room, and so on,” Hasikos said.

Ahniotis said this “is certainly a positive step but it does not solve the problem,” which needs to target establishing trust and stability in the market.

On the other hand, the Green Party said this opened a window of opportunity to legalise illegal works and although this may involve hundreds of small house owners, it would also benefit large developers to legalise any “scandalous” moves.

Socialist Party EDEK wanted Hasikos to provide answers as to whether the Cabinet’s decision was based on a study or just some hypothesis and which interests the move really served.

During an interview with CyBC radio, Hasikos was quick to clarify that the move did not pave the way for anarchy making everything normally illegal now legal but there was a set procedure that would be followed.

“If you illegally went and extended your property which now blocks your neighbour this does not become legal, because there is an issue there. Or if you added a room or built your garage in state owned land or in your neighbours unit, that won’t be legalised either.”

As long as any extensions or changes are specifically on the individual’s property and do not affect any other units this could be legalised provided it was going to be aesthetically pleasing.

If people follow the requirements then they could help their children by adding a small flat about 120 to 150 square metres above their house, Hasikos said.

AKEL MP Aristos Damianou said it would only benefit big businesses and banks.

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