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A velvet revolution for Famagusta planning zones?
19 February 2017
The Famagusta region, especially the beach areas (Paralimni - Ayia Napa - Sotira) seem to have been left behind in terms of planning zones and densities adopted. The region which attracts the most tourists (local and foreign) does not have demanding Municipalities which can promote the region’s interest, whereas the technocrats in the Government must think “they are villagers what do they know”!! The prevailing building density adopted for near the beach housing is now 20% (used to be 40%) and for hotels from the originally 70% to now 40%.
Yet for other beach regions, building density can reach more than 400% and especially Limassol with its new generation of high tower blocks has made all the difference. Limassol is not by chance that it has progressed, but the Limassolians are acting as one with the local Municipality together with the local Chambers and other organizations for the benefit of the town. It is a fact that as the building density increases, so development is encouraged. The recent incentives regarding increased building density for hotels in the Famagusta region by 20% has caused added beach hotel projects to come into the market (approximately 2.000 beds), older buildings are being renovated, whereas numerous tourist project extensions are under way.
We say that this Famagusta region has been left behind by comparison to other regions and in addition to the non-understandable low densities of the region, its development land has no access for approximately 50% of the total extent, frustrating demand and new projects. Yet, “voila”, like Houdini the magician, suddenly a 30 floor tower block has been allowed for the Ayia Napa Marina (and we say rightly), but what about the others?
The region will soon show an increasing demand and development for the immediate years to come, because it has the best beaches, the supporting Nicosia tourists and lower property prices than those of Limassol (which in general depends on the upper income groups Russians and others). In the Famagusta region villas to let is on top of the Cyprus wide market with average occupancy rate reaching around 60% and with returns (based on value) of around 5% p.a. after deducting the costs.
We are encouraging the local Municipalities to undertake some sort of a “velvet revolution” and come up with demands and be treated like the other beach areas/towns.
New local Councils (as an example Mayor of Ayia Napa) seem to be quite imaginative and progressive but, yet, the red tape by Governmental (Environmental Section) employees are all against this. The recent proposal by Ayia Napa Municipality regarding its beach development (a long walkway near the beach, the construction of piers etc), has been turned down to an extent. We have read the resume of the objection and we could not believe it. Migrating birds and the upset of the seabed are one of the general reasons. So? What about Limassol, Pafos etc. How about the expected casino set in the middle of the falcon migrating birds? Shall we do without?
In our opinion our primary consideration should be the well being of the 30.000 (Eurostat says 60.000) unemployed and the economic future of this island. We do not have anything else other than sun and sea and as Troika suggested tourism is what we should aim at. It is inevitable that any development will upset the environment, but what is the alternative? Not build airports, marinas, houses, motorways etc because it upsets the environment? We want these civil servants to tell us how they will feel if they are unemployed, whereas the Director of Environment with a hefty salary, chauffer driving car and a lot of benefits to go, has no problem to report the Government for any ill doings for such reasons.
We encourage some sort of a “revolution” by the local Municipalities in order to press the Government to have a local/Famagusta development in line with others. The Sotira beach region met a similar No by the same Environmental Department, duly ignored by the Municipality and now Sotira has its own 5star hotel (and spa) under development. These and other developments are now coming to create a shortage of hotel staff and with the tourist catering professionals are now coming back in demands to the extent that during the years 2017/2018 there will be a shortage.
A few years ago the Municipality of Paralimni had employed an internationally known town planner (Mr Demetriou) who had suggested (15 years ago) that the region should have high rise buildings/hotels with large open spaces around. The then Director of the Town Planning said to us “we dropped the project since we did not agreed that Cyprus should become like Miami”. What is wrong with Miami dear readers – See Limassol now, ascertaining what a huge mistake was made for Famagusta.
A few examples for the readers to note which have been ignored notwithstanding the Environmental Department objections:
These and others are examples of misguided attitudes by some civil servants, but for all of us the rest to pay the consequences.
We are considering that we need a law change for the prevailing procedure, since the people who manage the Department of Environment is not up to it with a wrong direction.