Nicosia municipality was wrong to reject a town planning permit for a 10-storey building, and the matter is now in the hands of the government, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said on Wednesday.

Nouris suggested the municipality was evading the matter and hiding behind any potential clashes with members of the public.

The spat concerns a municipality decision to reject a town planning permit for the construction of a 10-storey building in an area designated as one of special character.

As such, the municipality felt the area should be protected and rejected the application so as to avoid setting a precedent. It said this was in line with public consultations.

The applicant appealed the decision and it was assessed by an interministerial committee of two cabinet membera, headed by Nouris, who decided the municipality’s decision was wrong.

According to Nouris, the municipality sought to increase population density with residential units in the urban commercial centre of the capital. Seeking to promote sustainability it created a 2016 area plan, valid until today, with a building coefficient increased from 100 per cent to 200 per cent.

It also set the maximum height for developments at 31 metres and increased the permitted number of storeys from three to eight.

In September 2017, the developer received written feedback from the municipality over the project which was listed as eight storeys, with an approval for another two floors, Nouris said.

Further specifications set by the municipality was adhered to, the minister added.

“The interministerial committee protected the state from the risk of getting dragged through court at a risk of paying excessive amounts in damages, which taxpayers would be forced to pay.”

Nouris was responding to an article in Philenews detailing a clash between the municipality and the minister. The municipality is expected to convene on Thursday to discuss the matter.