The government issued building permits for 25 high-rise buildings in the first three months of the year and 60 more are pending, most of them in Limassol, Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said on Friday.
The minister gave the figures as part of new pilot framework of “general principles and preconditions for the construction of high-rise buildings with clear documentation of the town planning method followed during the assessment of the applications”.
“What we presenting today includes which areas can host high rise buildings, while urban centre areas have been defined in which such developments are allowed, based on the characteristics of each city,” Petrides said at a press conference organised by the town planning and housing department on regulations concerning high rise building in urban areas.
He said that none of the plans should give cause for concern, as there are examples of how similar systems work in other countries.
“There is expertise, scientific studies and we ought to act based on these,” Petrides said.
The pilot framework will run for six months, he said, following which its effectiveness will be assessed and a new round of consultations will be launched with the Scientific and Technical Chamber (Etek) and other stakeholders.
After that, Petrides said he aims to issue orders for more detailed parameters for assessing proposals for the construction of high rise buildings, which will be valid until the introduction of the revised local master plans for Cyprus’ four large cities – Nicosia, Larnaca, Limassol and Paphos – which are expected to be completed in 2020.
The tendency for the construction of high rise buildings of the last few years must be utilised properly to benefit the economy and to draw foreign investment, but also for the creation of new jobs, Petrides said.
In Limassol high-rises are used for residential purposes, while in Nicosia they house businesses. There is increased interest in Larnaca and some in Paphos, while no interest has been expressed in the construction of high rise buildings in Famagusta.
Petrides said that the erection of high rise buildings contributes to redefining the identity of urban centres and reviving neglected areas, while at the same time important environmental and energy benefits arise, as long as the buildings are built the right way.
“What’s important is for the planning for high rise buildings to be based on rational urban planning and not in anarchy or fragmentary planning,” Petrides said.
He added that it should also be used as a tool for urban planning aiming at the upgrade of the image of urban areas and the creation of infrastructure to benefit society as a whole.
The construction of high rise buildings, he said, has become an integral part of the town planning of all cities worldwide, including cities much smaller in size than those in Cyprus.
In Cyprus, he said, the decision for the approval of high rise buildings lies with the director of the department for town planning and housing.
The head of the department for town planning and housing, Athina Aristotelous-Cleridou, said that the existing policy already has provisions for the construction of such buildings, but that innovation concerns the procedure of examining proposals within a reasonable time so that the intentions of authorities can be made known to the owners and investors.
According to the new framework, the head of the department for town planning and housing will not be able to exercise discretion in cases of applications for the erection of such buildings outside residential areas unless it is deemed that the size of the plot, its location and other parameters do not affect the comforts of the locals or the environment.
Furthermore, in order to ensure the integration of the high-rise building into the surrounding area and its substantial contribution to the image of the city, the upgrade of the conditions in the host area and the continuation of the comfort of neighbouring properties and areas, the development should have specific features. These include its positioning in the urban centre and its proximity to or position within the wider urban area.