Stormy weather is in store for the embattled Sun City hotel complex as new Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos insisted that the two “illegal” floors added to the hotel must be demolished.

The controversial project neighbours a Natura 2000 protected site, while Sun City’s development company – Jimchang Cyprus Developing Co Ltd – saw former Akel deputy Christakis Giovanis as a shareholder. He resigned his post from parliament following Al Jazeera’s expose of the passport scandal.

Xenophontos made a strong appearance at his first House environment committee meeting on Wednesday, telling MPs that “the ministry does not agree with the previous government’s legalisation of the two additional floors”.

Indeed, the previous government in mid-January – just five days after the election – saw one of its final cabinet meetings approve the company’s application for a temporary planning permission by way of derogation. That then paved the way for the company to get such a permit, but this has not yet been issued.

Eleni Stylianopoulou, a senior official of the environment department, emphasised that a 2016 review of the project made it clear that there was a cap on how many floors the resort could have.

Stylianopoulou added that it was further backed up by a 2021 environmental impact assessment, which reiterated that the area is facing considerable environmental encroachment, that is legally binding.

Adding to the pressure, Stockwatch reported that the audit services also disagreed with the previous cabinet’s decision to greenlight the added floors. The audit services subsequently sent a request to the town planning department that the cabinet’s decision be rescinded and the environment authority’s conditions be respected.

For those who have followed the story, this week’s development may seem like a case of déjà vu. In October 2020, the Cyprus Mail reported that Former Interior Minister Nicos Nouris had also called for the two additional floors to be demolished. He said at the time that an enforcement notice was to be sent to the town planning department.

Sun City is in the Ayia Thekla area – next to the marina.

The five-star resort received permission for seven levels – meaning five stories, a basement and ground floor – but construction violated these terms with seven stories being erected. Permission was granted for 203 rooms comprising an area of 15,930m2.

The plot of land in question falls within the tourist zone T2a of the Sotira Municipality – where only hotels of up to three floors or five levels are allowed.