Planning & Building Permits to be axed for Small Developments

6 months ago

The Ministry of Interior is striving to complete the simplification of the development control system by July 1 of this year through a package of 22 measures agreed upon with the Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber (ETEK).

One of the key measures is the elimination of urban planning and building permits for small developments, specifically for houses and buildings with up to 12 apartments.

It is noteworthy that obtaining even simple permits used to take months or even several years. While the procedures have been streamlined over time, delays persisted, depriving citizens of the opportunity to commence construction promptly, incurring costs and inconvenience.

Interior Minister Konstantinos Ioannou, who regards this package as the most significant and crucial restructuring of urban planning licensing, states, “The actions taken will significantly alleviate the current major problem of delays, which is a burden on developments. Especially with the abolition of urban planning and building permits for small developments and greater involvement of private architects, development completion is expedited, as each citizen can proceed with their own schedules.”

The Minister also emphasizes the substantial change brought about by the digitization of the submission and examination of urban planning applications through the “Hippodamus” System.

A significant change in the licensing process, expected to reduce delays in application reviews, is the advance consultation with services such as the Fire Department, Water Development Department, Environmental Authority, and the Public Works Department.

The modification was deemed necessary because, in many cases, delays in reviewing applications were due to incomplete submissions and the delayed provision of necessary information by applicants.

Through the “Hippodamus” Information System, relevant processes will be handled electronically, reducing the time for application reviews by the Planning Authority.

Another significant challenge causing delays in issuing urban planning permits was the understaffing of Planning Authorities.

Identifying the problem, the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with Municipal Authorities, has hired 105 individuals who will be trained and eventually staff Provincial Self-Government Organizations. By June 30, the hired individuals will process a number of pending applications in existing municipalities, with the first 35 taking on duties on January 15.

It has also been revealed that different Planning and Building Authorities applied different practices during the application review, resulting in divergent processes, inconsistency, and time-consuming bureaucratic procedures causing delays in decision-making.

To eliminate practices causing unjustified delays, a working group from relevant Departments and ETEK is in the process of developing a standard/examination handbook to be followed by all Provincial Self-Government Organizations.