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God Help Us if there’s an Earthquake

Urgent action has been called for after serious concern emerged over the stability of some homes and buildings in Peyia. A spokeswoman of the Peyia Community Association said yesterday that buildings had been constructed in gorges, on illegal landfills and dry riverbeds, some streams even having been diverted so that building can take place. “We […]

Urgent action has been called for after serious concern emerged over the stability of some homes and buildings in Peyia.

A spokeswoman of the Peyia Community Association said yesterday that buildings had been constructed in gorges, on illegal landfills and dry riverbeds, some streams even having been diverted so that building can take place. “We have concerns over the geological stability of many areas,” she said.

In the last five years, Peyia has been the target of unprecedented construction, with thousands of new buildings, some of which are as high as five storeys.

This type of development has radically altered what was once a quiet, rural village, which has more than doubled its population, most of whom are now non-Cypriot.

“Much of the land seems to be unstable and unsuitable for safe construction of the many new multi-storey apartment blocks that are under construction in Peyia. I dread to think what will happen if there’s torrential rain or, God forbid, an earthquake,” she said. “At the moment, even a little rain causes flooding, as there has been no adequate infrastructure planning.”

Last week, the Association met with Green Party leader George Perdikis, who was visiting the village. “He has helped us with ongoing problems we have, such as voting registration, and he is the only politician to have done so. He is interested in our Association and has been looking into our concerns.

“While showing him around, we identified certain sites, and he was shocked by what he saw, describing it as a very bad situation.”

The spokeswoman said she wanted the general public to see why the organisation was highlighting these issues and invited journalists, politicians and government officials to visit Peyia for a guided tour.

“We are often criticised for complaining. This is a big issue that covers unsuitable and dangerous building practices, lack of title deeds, consumer protection, town planning laws, environmental and aesthetic concerns and public safety. We are concerned that this has been allowed to happen in Peyia, which has now become a perfect model for ‘how not to do it’.

“Unfortunately, the same mistakes are being made in other villages. We are not anti-development, but we do call for sanity and control so that due consideration will be given to infrastructural needs and the application of the principles of sustainable development.”

As well as Peyia, Pissouri and Tala have also been heavily targeted by developers, with fears that many buildings constructed over the last couple of years will soon show problems. Some buildings in Pissouri are already facing difficulties, even before completion of construction.

“Some affected home-owners have started proceedings against major developers but the legal options are limited and complex. Something needs to be done quickly to stop the construction but court cases are too time-consuming, with people’s requirements not met, such as construction continuing even though a court case has been registered.”

She added that many decisions were taken at town planning departments outside Peyia at the highest level. “The Municipality doesn’t have as much control as it would like.”

The authorities in the village issue building permits but planning permits come from the district level and above.

The Mayor’s Office at Peyia Municipality said many constructions were out of their hands. “There is nothing we can do but issue permits when planning is authorised from above,” a statement said.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, Perdikis said that the Green Party “is very concerned about the situation, not only over its environmental aspect but also on the issue of people’s safety.”

He said the matter will shortly be brought before Parliament.

Copyright © Cyprus Mail September 9 2006

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