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Old habits will undo new building permits target

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Cyprus Interior Minister, Nicos Nouris, presents the New Framework of Town Planning and Building Licensing "New era in issuing licences, new facts for the citizen".

Having studied the Minister of Interior Nicos Nouris’ proposal on real estate permitting procedures, we have the following comments to make.

  • You state, Mr Minister, that you aim to improve the building permit/title deed time required within 30 days for planning permits and within the same day for the issue of the building permit – other than those projects that require an environmental study (for which the present time issue is set as a target 12 months).

We wish all the best to the Minister on this goal and we look forward to experiencing the announced results, but is it possible?

  • We credit you for your good intentions, but we doubt its success since the same civil servants who now cause (primarily) the delays, are the same whom you hope will put their skates on.

Such honourable goals were announced by your predecessors with no success.  So, what makes you so confident that this time your plan will succeed?  But as they say, “hope dies last”. We regret that you will be disappointed and in the meantime, you may expose yourself to public failure.

  • The privatisation of permits did not usher any good results – we have provided in the past details how this could work with the payment of damages by those architects who are not up to it. So, the architects (be it not all) not being certain of their capabilities, play it safe and adopt the existing time-consuming procedures.
  • A building permit within the same day? You wish. Local municipalities and authorities cause all sorts of problems and delays, including the never-ending approvals which must be confirmed, demanding to be signed by the always absent municipal officials.
  • To order an official site plan it takes more than 40 days (at least), you do appreciate our concern for what you suggest that it is just not possible.
  • We have reported the non-replies/delayed replies to interested investors has been most shocking (see examples for the Engomi development, the Berengaria hotel, the Adventure Park at Troodos) which were dropped by the investors after inexcusable delays.
  • Having gone through the calvary of completing a project we have then the procedure of the title issue. Inspection after inspection, checking and double-checking for minute details to secure the certificate of final approval, the approval of the division permit, and so many other approvals that take 1-2 years. We have suggested these permits should be issued by the supervising architect (which could take only 2-3 months).
  • Can we trust local authorities that are now in charge of building permits, based on the fact that we have submitted to your Ministry accusations, that these local authorities are in fact doing all sorts of illegalities? We bring to your attention the most recent beach kiosk in Protaras “licensed” to sell newspapers and juices, that became a grill bar without any permits, and it is now becoming a disco!
  • We have experienced the wrongdoings which we report for everyone to note and we excuse your theoretic proposal, based on your own lack of knowledge on the subject, presumably being advised by the same civil servants who advised your predecessors and without results.
  • We have provided to your Ministry other detailed suggestions why the Government has failed to construct affordable housing. We have the dangerous situation suggested by the Environmental Department to become more or less a supervisor of the procedures regarding permits and becoming a sort of new Auditor General (even for existing projects).

So, here we are, Mr Minister, we feel we are the only free voice daring to expose some of the wrongdoings in the construction sector.

You must aim for the creation of a deputy ministry which will handle the issues of town planning/permits/titles.

If you want to leave your own mark in the building industry, do not follow the past.

Move forward and take a political risk, but then if you succeed you will be remembered by the industry, and by extension the Cyprus economy will be indebted to you.

 

www.aloizou.com.cy