We have been looking through the announcements published in the local press regarding the closing of Era Korivos department store, both by the municipality of Paphos and its owners. We find it strange, to say the least, that such a large shopping centre be required to close down by the municipality, both in terms of the details provided and the timing, just before Christmas.
The position of the municipality is that the project has a different layout and the extent of the building development is greater than that in the plans approved. The owners claim that they secured a planning permit for the alterations and obtained the approval of the Council of Ministers for the purpose. Notwithstanding this, the municipality refused to provide the permit, since the project had not secured the certificate of approval (to be issued by the municipality). The owners appealed against the municipality’s decision in December 2018. The municipality rejected the appeal and the owners applied again (the case is still pending).
In our opinion for such a project to close down, it should be based on criteria of safety to the visitors and employees. From what we understand the “minor” alterations did not warrant closing the store and the firing of around 200 employees, letting them go during the Christmas period and costing the government thousands in unemployment benefits.
Buildings should be erected based on the permits issued, but why is the municipality being so adamant in its position, especially while refusing to abide by the Council of Ministers’ decision in 2018?
No building can be occupied without the certificate of approval and local courts enforce it, but let’s look at the general situation prevailing in the Cyprus property market. Approximately 80 per cent of the buildings either with title or not, do not have such a certificate and as such cannot be occupied, let or exploited for the benefit of the owner.
Based on our experience, hotels, entertainment projects, homes and so on have minor alterations and deviations. One wonders why the Paphos municipality has been so strict in this case, while refusing to follow the instructions of the government planning office and Council of Ministers.
This is not only normal procedure. The owners may take legal action against the municipality for being treated differently to others.
There must be something going on behind the scenes which has not surfaced yet. There are rumours that personal differences unrelated to the dispute in question are behind it. We hope that this is not the case and we feel that if it is allowed to escalate, the municipality may face hefty penalties and damages.
A much-needed compromise is required, which should include the response of the municipality to the Council of Ministers’ approval, the temporary extensions for a cover permit, in order for the owners to abide by the original permit and a time limit for execution of 60 days.
Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Valuers, Estate Agents & Property Consultants, www.aloizou.com.cy, [email protected]