Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Dynamic action promised over Paphos cathedral

Protesters outisde the Paphos town hall on Monday (Akis Vladimirou)

Dynamic action will be taken to oppose a decision taken by the mayor of Paphos and the municipal council on Monday evening to back a proposal to construct a cathedral in the gardens of the town hall.
This decision has also resulted in the Paphos Green party withdrawing their support for Mayor Phedonas Phedonos, according to Andreas Evlavis, Paphos Green Party secretary.

“We are very disappointed in this decision, for us it’s corruption. Paphos is just like it was before, nothing has changed and we are disappointed in the mayor for not keeping his promise and reneging on it,” Evlavis told the Cyprus Mail.

He said he was referencing a pre-election promise by the mayor to save the garden.

The municipal council had rejected the proposal by a majority vote earlier this month, (12 against, 7 in favour and one proposed a people’s referendum). However, the issue was brought back for discussion at the request of Edek councillor Vassos Demetriou.

“Edek wanted the matter to be reconsidered after the Bishop sent a letter confirming that he would reconsider the original request and alter some aspects.”

Demetriou changed his mind after the bishop said he would accept the cathedral being built anywhere in the garden and will discuss the size and design of the structure to blend in with neoclassical buildings in the area.

However, Evlavis added that at present only a 1 per cent building allowance is permitted in the area. A petition opposed to the cathedral started by Paphos residents has already garnered close to 1,500 signatures.

The disagreement began after the public gardens were returned to the owners, the Church, when a long-term agreement expired in 2005. The Church had rented it to the municipality on a long lease and instead of continuing the agreement, as the municipality had hoped, the Church expressed a desire to build a cathedral on the grounds instead.

The bishop expressed his intent to apply for a building permit to use one third of the space to create a new cathedral (around 730 square metres) in exchange for giving the municipality two thirds of the garden. A similar application was turned down in 2010.

Evlavis said that opposition to the construction of a Cathedral in the only public garden in the heart of Paphos is massive and that the petition would enforce actions that will be announced soon, to apply pressure to change the decision.

Paphos councillor Andreas Chrysanthou, who voted in favour of the Cathedral at both recent meetings, said that the public who turned up at the town hall on Monday were around four to one in favour of the cathedral.

However, he noted that the municipality holds the power to veto any application that does not take into account assurances given by the Bishop in a letter to Edek and made in person at the council vote, that compromises would be made.

“This is not the final chapter. If the Archbishop’s drawings or master plan for approval are not according to his promises to the council, then we may not give the building licence.”

He said this could include the size, or if any other issues pertaining to the environment are violated. “We reserve the right to say no.”

He explained that Monday’s decision was just the first step towards obtaining a building permit. The bishop will also have to get permission from the Derogations Council, as he is applying for relaxations, and the Cabinet in order to obtain a building permit

Evlavis said: “The mayor lied and there is no reason for the Greens to support him any longer. He has also cut down many old trees around Paphos.”

Evlavis said that the opposition group,’ of which he is a committee member, would now hold a meeting to decide what action to take and give hope to the people who have seen their local politicians ‘sell out.’

The petition: https://www.change.org

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