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Guest ColumnistOpinion

New plan for Nicosia’s old city the usual recipe of patchwork fixes

comment glafkos a proper strategic plan is necessary for old nicosia
A proper strategic plan is necessary for old Nicosia

A seven-point plan for the Walled City of Nicosia

By Glafkos Constantinides

The Walled City of Nicosia has been attracting idle attention for years while the area continues to suffer from decay and abandonment.

Part of the reason is the quality and depth of the periodic policy responses which lack sufficient social and economic depth to deliver viable and effective solutions. The recent government initiatives, despite all good intentions, are blind to the complexity of the underlying social and economic problems in the area replicating the usual recipe of jumping to patchwork actions and incentives for student accommodation and listed buildings without a real plan with vision, full understanding of all the issues, sustainable finance and a workable consultation and governance approach.

Actions outside a conceptual context and strategic direction may draw public attention that something is happening but cannot deliver sustainable solutions unless the following seven key points are understood and adopted and brought together under a strategic plan:

  1. Vision – A well thought out and serious vision statement expressing a prospective view of the economic and social future of the area, an overview of the main social, economic and cultural assets of the area and how new sources of supply and demand will evolve to support an enterprising social structure to take advantage of emerging opportunities.
  2. Stock taking of all the main projects required to improve the infrastructure, the building stock and protect and maintain all those cultural assets and historical spaces that can reform the area to offer a new experience for students, new residents and visitors. The development of student accommodation facilities should be seen within this context.
  3. Strategic costing of all those projects to size up and comprehend the scale of what we are talking about to deliver a broad and order-of-magnitude economic statement of the effort clear of any confusing technical details.
  4. Financing plan to express the options, beyond public sector and EU funds, for mobilising additional sources of finance and new mechanisms for beginning to generate new urban finance from the expected benefits to property values, retail sales, jobs, incomes and the overall uplifting of the local economy. Certainly, the expenditure package of €40 million announced will create values which must be priced into the overall economic programme to contribute to sustainable finance for regeneration as a continuous process, unless there are no benefits and increased values from that investment.
  5. Social consultation process of engagement with, and for, the people and stakeholders of the area particularly with people who ended up in the area to secure affordable accommodation. Gentrification is common in many countries and its management requires sensitivity and empathy.
  6. Spatial Master Plan to express the spatial implications and opportunities of all the above defining priorities and the linkages of student facilities with other land use and infrastructure as part of the vision for the future of the area.
  7. Governance Plan defining decision making roles and responsibilities for implementation and monitoring ensuring that a common view prevails among all stakeholders.

 

 

Glafkos Constantinides is a sociologist, economist and planner

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