Cyprus Mail

Major changes afoot for Akamas and Troodos

Government-owned house near the former Amiantos asbestos mine. Private investors are being sought to take over the properties

TWO plans which will fundamentally change the future of two of Cyprus’ most beautiful areas – the Akamas and Troodos – are important priorities for the government, Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis announced on Monday.

“About Troodos three different issues were examined,” Kouyialis said, speaking after a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades and members of the state services on Monday morning.

“One is the development of communities around the centre of Troodos. The second is the use of state property in Troodos and the third concerns the creation of a natural history museum in the wider region.”

On the issue of state property – mostly houses – the government will look for private investors to take over existing government houses in the centre of the Troodos region and in several other places such as Platania and the old asbestos mine at Amiantos.

Experts are also studying existing collections and various premises in the region to decide the best place for a museum and will prepare a proposal by October.

“In the next two months we will take final decisions on the creation of the museum and thereafter another four to five months will be required to gauge the interest from investors,” the agriculture minister explained.

The minister said a cable car was among the plans for Troodos, adding that “this possibility will be evaluated by the investors who show interest.”

In May, Anastasiades had promised a more decisive contribution on Troodos from the state than had been previously the case.

“We have a common vision for the development of the Troodos region as a single entity and its promotion as an attractive place to live with a local economy based on culture and heritage,” he said at the time, adding that part of the plan was to increase the population in the mountains by providing employment opportunities and a better quality of life.

The creation of a national forest park in the Akamas region was also discussed at Monday’s meeting.

This follows the decision by the government earlier this year to turn state land within the Natura-2000 designated area in the peninsula into a national park, while exempting privately held properties.

By this Friday a tender will be launched inviting international firms to design the park which should be designed to benefit the surrounding communities.

The work should be completed in about nine months, giving the House of Representatives time to collect the offers and study the proposals.

“We also examined the creation of a new local plan,” Kouyialis said. “The town planning department informed us they already started working on a new local plan for the whole region, not only for the area located within Natura, but primarily for property outside Natura – keeping in mind that there are now ‘white’ areas [areas in which it is not allowed to build] and this is a huge problem.”

A comprehensive plan should be ready within 18 months to be presented to the cabinet.

“I hope that we will be ready in June 2017 to start work on the construction of the park,” the minister added. “I’m sure that slowly we will put things in order and the public will perceive what we are trying to do in the area.”

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