‘It’s madness to keep building when we have more than enough’

By Bejay Browne

Peyia residents are up in arms over a number of big building projects earmarked for the area, including two large hotels, citing a lack of infrastructure and arguing that development should slow right down.

“Enough is enough. The character of Peyia is being lost completely,” resident Marios Antoniades told the Sunday Mail.

“We have become so greedy, not caring about our countryside and beautiful, natural areas, instead destroying them and building more and more ugly, empty buildings. We are over developed already.”

Other residents highlight that Peyia is already struggling to cope with its mushrooming size, which is greatly increased during the main summer holiday season, as thousands descend on the popular Coral Bay and the surrounding areas for holidays.

“We can’t manage as it is and often have water or power cuts. There’s one coastal road in and out, too much rubbish and a rising crime rate,” an elderly Cypriot resident said,

Graham Angel moved to Peyia with his wife 19 years ago, and said it is now like a different place. When he chose Peyia, it had more of a village vibe, and he could see green fields and hills from the balcony. Now it’s a small town made up of around 12,000 to 15,000 permanent residents according to official figures, and his view is mostly empty buildings.

Constant development has meant that around 3,000 properties remain unoccupied, he said, adding that it makes no sense to build more hotels, as there are already plenty, and private development should also be slowed down.

“It’s madness to keep building when we have more than enough and so many are empty.”

The projects due to get underway include a new five-floor hotel by developer Carducci Estates Co Ltd.which has just been given the green light by the environment department.

Hesperus hotel is estimated at €40 million and will include 324 luxury rooms, a restaurant, offices, recreation rooms, a spa, a gym, two outdoor swimming pools, a public green area and parking. The total building area will be 29,720 square metres.

There is also the large development planned for a hillside above the town, at Ayia Vouni (Sacred Mountain). The project is on a steep slope and will include four-storey apartment blocks of 145 units and 125 villas.

The municipality challenged the government’s decision to issue a planning permit saying that it would irreversibly damage the environment, put pressure on infrastructure and create new homes whilst thousands remain empty. However, they lost the case, which they are currently appealing.

The project’s developer is former president George Vassiliou who acquired around 330,000 metres square of land in Peyia. The design, described as a sustainable development project and a near zero energy settlement, is receiving funding from the EU as part of its zero-energy initiative.

Peyia council previously raised documented concerns over the development and requested that the town planning department refrain from approving any permits until all of the necessary studies were completed and examined.

“They can’t start building until we give them permission and at the last majority vote we declined,” said Peyia councillor Linda Leblanc.

In addition, Leptos has plans for the development of ‘Plot1”, known better as the car park at Coral Bay, which has commanding views of the beach and Mediterranean.

The plans include the construction of 22 villas and services, such as restaurants and cafes.

The blue-flagged beach attracts thousands of visitors every year. Currently, Peyia municipality has a court case against the council of ministers for granting relaxations to the developer, which ii says are a violation of the law.

“It’s a long-standing desire of the developer to build here and it is his right, but things have to be done the right way and to protect the environment of the area which is hugely important to the public and nature,” she said.

Leblanc disagrees with the argument that more hotels will bring great benefits for the community as there are currently six or seven hotels that still owe hundreds of thousands of euros in room taxes, water bills and rubbish collection fees. Constant development also destroys the natural areas which are so popular with visitors, she said.

“Cheap flights fill hotels which are mostly all inclusive. I believe that we need a study to see what the is cost of a hotel to the community. Are they viable and do they actually give anything back?”

Although many of the residents have raised concerns at the way things are going, others are in support of further development.

“We should be able to build what we want and have a right to make money. This is our land,” one man said.

However, Leblanc believes that the way forward is to take a step back and reintroduce small family businesses, such as tavernas and small hotels.

“I think people were much happier with the way things and hospitality used to be.”