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Fresh criticism over proposed multi-storey building in downtown Nicosia

nicosia skyline cyprus business now cyprus mail
File photo of the Nicosia skyline

Neo Kyma (New Wave) on Wednesday joined opposition parties in criticising the government for approving a 10-storey building in Nicosia’s Kinyras avenue in Ayios Andreas, despite the interior ministry’s insistence that proper procedures were followed.

“It seems private interests once more outweigh the interests of our country and its people,” the movement said in a written statement, as it “invalidates local authorities and services, experts and local society”.

The issue came to light last week after a report published in Phileleftheros said the government had bypassed the municipality in approving the project next to a listed building housing the town planning authority.

This prompted statements from Akel and the Greens, both of whom condemned the move.

Akel had said this action only confirms once again that the government’s main concerns are neither residents’ quality of life or the environment, but how to cater to a small group of friends and acquaintances and help them maximise their profits.

The proposed building had received the thumbs down from the town planning department, Nicosia Municipality, the committee on listed buildings, the antiquities department, and the Technical Chamber (Etek).

The Greens also lambasted the plan, saying that the building would destroy the character of the area.

The Ayios Andreas residential council, whom Neo Kyma spoke to, had similar concerns. According to the statement, they expressed their “dissatisfaction and deep concern” about the decision, as it shows the government’s “indifference to the deterioration of the area’s character”.

At the same time, the residents said the decision does not take into account at all their concerns, which are reasonable as they are the ones directly affected by it.

“One has to wonder: by what criteria does a ministerial committee, without possessing the necessary expertise, decide to ignore the decision of the competent department of town planning and the objections of Etek, to disregard scientific evidence and the opinions of the local community, only to serve private interests?”

Any town planning should be made with respect for the environment and the special character of an area, the statement finally said. “Alongside carrying us forward into a new era, modern design must coexist harmoniously with its surroundings”.

The Greens have said they will challenge the decision in a bid to reverse it and urged Nicosia Municipality to lodge an appeal against the government’s decision and ask for its immediate revocation.

But the interior ministry denied claims it had acted outside of regulations, citing 2016 changes to town planning rules raising the maximum number of floors for buildings in central Nicosia from three to eight.

In that area, the plan and incentives allowed a project of eight floors however the town planning authority has the discretionary power to add another two. In this instance, the town planning authority which is Nicosia Municipality, rejected the application and the applicant filed an appeal which was examined by a ministerial committee which approved it.

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