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Architects Blast Authorities for Building Permit Delays

Lengthy delays in obtaining town planning and building permits for new buildings can squarely be blamed on the antiquated practices of the Town Planning Department and local municipalities, the President of the Architects Association, Costantinos Costandi, said yesterday.

The issue of town planning and building permits has long plagued construction in Cyprus, with lengthy delays in processing applications helping to formulate the common practice of ‘build now, seek permit later’. This routine has left Cyprus with a vast collection of illegal buildings or extensions, causing huge delays in the issuing of title deeds and a host of other troubles.

Last Sunday, Phileleftheros reported on the problem, quoting Strovolos Mayor Savvas Iliophotou blaming architects for the delays in processing permits. He told the paper that, in most cases, the delay in issuing permits was a result of architects making errors or omissions, leading to valuable time being lost spotting mistakes.

Iliophotou reportedly said his municipality would no longer do the jobs of others, and instead, start noting down all the mistakes and omissions so it would not be blamed for all delays.

Evidently upset by the comments, Costandi described the claims as “unacceptable and groundless”.

“Instead of the authorities (municipalities and town planning) apologising to citizens for offering the worst service of delays, they have the nerve to ask for change. This doesn’t surprise us so much, since we already experienced it when they asked parliament to increase charges for examining and issuing permits to cover their ‘operational costs’ without even concerning themselves with the whole system of examining permits,” he said.

“It’s not possible in the 21st century to waste working hours to measure the area of a house, when it could be done by simply pressing a button on a computer.”

Costandi charged the relevant authorities with failing to modernise with the times. “They spend a whole day walking around the house with a ruler measuring every room and calculating the total area. This would take five minutes using a computer, but they don’t have computers.”

The association president maintained that despite the town planning law being in effect for nearly 15 years, town planning and municipalities still don’t co-ordinate on who checks what, resulting in checks being made twice, increasing operating costs for both.

“Their behaviour has created a social problem and left citizens and architects vulnerable,” he added.

Due to the extensive delays, developers or citizens start off with one idea of construction costs, and finish with another when the permits finally come through. If someone wants to be a law-abiding citizen, they run the risk of watching costs break their budget limit as time goes by, noted Costandi.

Regarding criticism that architects often submit an application without the necessary structural design studies, Costandi challenged the municipalities not to accept inadequate applications, as they were plain to see.

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