A SPAT between Peyia council and Leptos Developers has escalated and resulted in an area of privately owned land right above Coral Bay, being cordoned off. Until now, it has been used as a car park and access point.
This, coupled with the late tender process for the beach’s two kiosks has meant that the area is unusually quiet for the start of the summer season. Visitors have already begun complaining about the area’s ramshackle appearance and lack of operational facilities.
Although the land overlooking Coral Bay is privately owned by the developer, it has traditionally been used as a car park for visitors to the popular blue-flagged beach.
Following the cordoning off of the car park, an emergency council meeting was called to discuss the matter. Reportedly, Leptos plans to build a boutique hotel on the plot.
To facilitate public access to the beach, the council decided to open access to the area by constructing a road on public land which runs along a ravine to the east of the area. This was done in just two days, said Peyia Councillor Linda Leblanc.
“This is not open to vehicles, only those servicing the kiosks, but it’s open to pedestrians. There is also a public car park opposite Leptos’ land, so there is space to park,” she said.
Paphos Green Party head, Andreas Evlavis, said that Peyia should have created access to the beach through the municipal green area.
“We are putting pressure on the mayor to make proper access for the public. The municipality should take care of the green area and use it as access to the beach. For some reason, they took permission to create a temporary access along a dry river bed. In future, this needs to be returned to its natural state and permanent access created,” he said.
On Leptos’ plans for the proposed boutique hotel, it clearly shows two different access points to the beach, both using municipal land, he said. “We are concerned what may happen to the beach in the future, as is the case with so many hotels across the island where they are using the protected zone. We hope this doesn’t happen here.”
“Leptos has tried to block access to the beach before, the area belongs to them and I don’t know why they are doing it again. Many people are calling the Greens to complain,” he added.
The area is part of Harbour Shore Estates – a Leptos company – which includes 288 plots in Coral Bay. Leptos and Peyia municipality have been involved in negotiations with the ministry of interior, land registry and town planning to try to solve this long-standing problem of title deeds and access to the beach.
Leblanc is one of the homeowners still waiting for deeds to her Leptos-built property. She claims that the developer has not kept to promised deadlines to comply with procedures required to issue division permits, and other requirements that would allow buyers to obtain their deeds.
According to Leblanc, the latest move is the result of a long and complicated situation which involves permission to build the hotel, title deeds, and the tender for the smaller of the beaches two kiosks.
She said that the current spat started a few weeks ago when George Leptos visited Peyia council and presented a three-tiered proposition.
“He wants to build a boutique hotel on the privately owned land; the issue of title deeds would be addressed,” she said, “and he wanted the council to run the smaller kiosk. Leptos would take a percentage of this income,” she added. This would be an exchange to allow electricity to cross Leptos’ private land to the two beach kiosks, which currently need to use generators. The public was also to be charged to park on the land until the hotel is built. “He is allowed to do this as it’s privately owned,” Leblanc said.
Leptos apparently wanted the council to speed up the plans for the hotel on the spot, with no specifications or planning permissions, according to Leblanc. The developer also wanted the council to halt the tender process, she said.
The mayor, she said, was adamant a decision could not be made “just like that”. Leblanc said Leptos then wanted to meet the mayor on the day of the tender meeting before the bids were opened, which the mayor declined to do, considering it to be interfering with a public process, but was willing to meet him afterwards to discuss other issues. “The matter has been reported to the auditor-general,” Leblanc said, adding that Peyia was currently working on options to come to a resolution with the company.
The Cyprus Mail made numerous attempts to contact George Leptos for a comment.