The developers of five controversial residential towers planned for historic Gladstone Street in Nicosia insisted on Monday they would continue to respect the law, but they stopped short of confirming whether this meant they would abide by the three-storey limit allowed in the area.
The announcement from Rotos Group came after reports last week that the developers were planning the construction of a 16-storey building in the iconic street where a maximum of three storeys is allowed.
Nearby residents have been strongly critical and signed petitions in an attempt to stop the development going ahead, saying the plans are completely out of place with the traditional character of the neighbourhood.
The Rotos Group said in its many development projects it has never violated any provision of the law but did not say what exactly their plans are.
However, according to municipal councellor Kyriakos Tsimillis this is not the case. “It is quite clear that only three floors are allowed, and four if certain conditions are met. I have however got the plans in which they asked for 16 floors,” he said.
“There are three legal parameters regarding the restrictions, two of them they meet, the building coefficient and the coverage of land, but the third one is the main issue, the number of floors. They say they follow the coefficient but don’t mention the floors which is misleading.”
He said it was his duty to inform the people living in the area about this before a decision by the municipality was taken.
“Now it seems they have changed their mind, but if this is the case they should have said so and not say they have been following the law all along.”
In its statement, the Rotos Group said they wanted to dispel any concerns of the public.
“The group is aware of the current legislation in this area, recognises its historical significance for Nicosia and its citizens, and fully respects the special character and architecture of Gladstonos Street,” the statement said. “The project that will be built will be in line with the urban planning data of the Nicosia local plan. It is worth noting that in the preliminary views, the request concerned the application of the existing building factor and no additional incentive or building factor was ever requested.”
Advertising agency Ogilvy, speaking for the company, refused to comment on whether this now means the project will have no more than three floors.
They also would not reveal whether there will be a town planning meeting to discuss the project as was said last week. Councellor Tsimillis said by Friday the item was not on the agenda for Tuesday, when the weekly meeting takes place.
Resident Dimis Michaelides commented the least the municipality should do is to reply to two petitions on the subject.
“The first one was by 80 residents, the University of Cyprus and the Leventis Foundation in early March, and the second, electronic one, now has 2,300 signatures,” Michaelides said. “They haven’t replied to any of them.”
“We will exhaust all legal means to address any deviations from the regulations.”
Works on the project were halted in 2013 due to the economic crisis. The aim is now to erect luxury residences.
The proposed construction is an area adjacent to the Prodromou linear park, the Anastasios Leventis Foundation, but also the University of Cyprus (UCy) archaeological research unit, the staff of which described their own building as “one of the most beautiful buildings in Nicosia.”