The interior ministry on Wednesday presented plans to revitalise old Nicosia, including grants to boost business activity, student accommodation grants, town planning incentives and housing arrangements, and home ownership grants.

Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said the aim is the socio-economic strengthening and revitalisation of Nicosia within the walls.

“The multicultural character of Nicosia requires the creation of a living community within the walls, highlighting and strengthening its historical character, but also its modern European identity,” he said, noting that the goal is a comprehensive approach and substantial intervention.

“We aspire to transform the historic centre into a modern place of business and economic activity, to ensure that existing residents stay, and to attract new ones, achieving its revival,” he noted.

Ioannou said that the ambition is the social and economic upgrade of the area paired with highlighting its unique and architectural character as an integral part of the history and culture of Cyprus.

This effort, which was kickstarted by the previous government and is enriched by the current one, will create new jobs, attract more people to the area, and improve the built environment by contributing to circular economy and green growth.

The first scheme concerns a grants plan to strengthen business activity within the walled city of Nicosia, with €10 million from the state budget allocated for the period from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2026 (€2 million/year).

The second will see a total budget of €15 million, funded through the Recovery and Resilience Plan, allocated to sponsorships for student accommodation, which Ioannou said will be taken to the council of ministers for approval after it is approved by the superintendent of control of state aids.

The third action plan concerns a housing plan for the walled city of Nicosia, which was implemented in March 2023, with a budget of €5 million.

The minister also spoke about urban planning incentives and regulations for Nicosia within the walls, highlighting the importance of the preservation and digitisation of the city’s architectural heritage.

To this end, the project evaluated 525 buildings with the aim of declaring the most noteworthy as listed buildings, in addition to the existing 800.

Nicosia mayor Constantinos Yorkadjis emphasised the importance of attracting new people to “come, live, work or do business in the historic centre of the capital”.

He noted that all of the incentive plans concern areas where projects are already being carried out by Nicosia municipality, “because we now know that multi-level planning, that is infrastructure creation combined with incentives, has a positive impact and is a catalyst to bringing buildings back to life”.

Examples of such projects are the transfer of the municipality to its new home in the heart of the city, the completion of Eleftheria square and its unification with the moat, underground parking lot construction, street renovations and beautification of building facades to upgrade the infrastructure and highlight the special character of the area.

The aim of the municipality is the permanent and substantial revitalisation of both the historical and the wider centre of the capital, he said, stressing that especially for the city within the walls, “we had to intervene so that the image of abandonment and desolation, a result of the invasion and decades-long division of the city, is left in the past, and so we can look to the future with greater optimism and confidence”.