THE STATE is losing €50 million per year because of delays in the issuing of planning permits, according to the Cyprus Technical Chamber.
It said the state could use this money to build ten schools, three hospitals or a museum each year.
The chamber’s study says that there is vicious circle of legal distortions and poor implementation of regulations in the permit process which leads to large delays and violations of the law.
The delay in the issuing of permits translates into the unauthorised operation of hotels, restaurant/bars, shops and swimming pools, it added.
“The long delays lead to irregularities, cost money and lead to the consolidation of a culture of illegality where law-abiding citizens are punished,” the study said.
The problems identified are:
- There is a large number of planning Authorities (in relation to the number of permits issued) who do not have the expertise needed or have other weaknesses.
- The General Building Regulations are obsolete, with many shortcomings and repetitions, resulting in a difficult text that it is hard to interpret.
- Long delays in the issuing of permits and modern property titles.
- Extensive irregularities, i.e. starting of construction starting before permits, use of buildings without authorisation and urban planning and building irregularities at construction sites.
- Complete lack of building control on the construction site.
- Unskilled supervisors which are highly dependent on the license applicants.
- Complete lack of use of the online application submissions system.
- Poor performance of the Republic in the submission of contracts.
- Town planning and building principles focused on details instead of being effective.
To resolve these issues the Technical Chamber suggests:
- The creation of a registry for architectural and civil engineering offices which will upgrade their role and will allow the state to give them more responsibilities.
- Application of the institution of the third-party building inspector.
- Requirement that a properly completed application for a building permit accompanied by a certificate of completion of works be submitted before the inspection.
- Defining requirements and internal procedures and maximum test / response time depending on the type and use of the building.
- Rapid computerisation and the possibility of electronic submission of town and building applications.
- Modernisation of the areas of Local Government related to town planning authorities.
- Complete revision of the Law on Town Planning, including the creation of a modern General Building Regulation.
- The Town Planning and Housing Department admits that there are problems in the process of issuing planning permits.
Recently, Minister of Interior, Constantinos Petrides said that in order to get a planning permit one can go to ten different authorities (Department of Town Planning and Housing, the five municipalities of the cities and the five District Offices of the Department of Town Planning and Housing) and to get a building permit one can go to 36 authorities (30 municipalities, a community and the five District Offices of the Department of Town Planning and Housing).
In November 2016 we reported that the Interior Ministry had begun the task of reforming Cyprus’ time consuming and complex procedures involved with the licensing and control of building development as announced by the Interior Ministry.
In September 2017 we reported that the Interior Ministry has been working with experts from the Austrian Finance Ministry to overhaul planning and building control developing proposals and recommendations based on best international practices to rationalise Planning and Building Permits, Certificates of Approval, the enforcement of building control and the issuance of Title Deeds.
Speaking at that time a source said that “The proposed central authority will be issuing ‘two in one’ permits in a bid to get rid of unnecessary red tape and minimise the number of departments dealing with permits.”
In November 2017 The World Bank ‘Doing Business’ report for Cyprus highlighted the mind-boggling level of bureaucracy in dealing with building permits involving several government and local authority departments.
Now here we are in October 2018 and it appears that little (if any) progress has been made on these vital reforms.