Small-scale developments to be exempt from planning and building permits.

The Ministry of Interior is working diligently to simplify the development control system by July 1 this year, introducing a set of 22 measures developed in collaboration with the Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber (ETEK).

A major reform in this package is the removal of the requirement for urban planning and building permits for minor developments, particularly for residential structures and buildings comprising up to 12 apartments.

Historically, the process of acquiring even basic permits could span from months to years. Despite efforts to expedite these procedures, delays continued, leading to cost overruns and inconveniences for citizens eager to start construction.

Interior Minister Konstantinos Ioannou, who views this initiative as a pivotal and essential overhaul of the urban planning permit process, asserts, “The implemented measures will substantially reduce the current significant delay issues that hinder development. The elimination of permits for smaller projects and increased participation from private architects will speed up development, allowing individuals to proceed according to their plans.”

The Minister highlights the profound impact of digitizing the process for submitting and reviewing urban planning applications through the “Hippodamus” System.

A key reform in the licensing procedure, aimed at curtailing delays in the evaluation of applications, involves early consultations with various departments such as the Fire Department, Water Development Department, Environmental Authority, and Public Works Department.

This change was considered essential because many application review delays were attributed to incomplete submissions and tardy provision of required information by applicants.

With the implementation of the “Hippodamus” Information System, these processes will now be conducted electronically, significantly shortening the time needed for the Planning Authority to review applications.

The understaffing of Planning Authorities was another major factor contributing to the delay in issuing urban planning permits.

To address this, the Ministry of Interior, in cooperation with Municipal Authorities, has recruited 105 individuals who will receive training to eventually join Provincial Self-Government Organizations. By June 30, these newly hired staff will start addressing a backlog of applications in current municipalities, with the first group of 35 beginning their roles on January 15.

Furthermore, it has come to light that different Planning and Building Authorities were following varied practices in their application review process, leading to inconsistencies, inefficient procedures, and delays in decision-making.

In response, a task force comprising members from the relevant Departments and ETEK is currently developing a standardized examination manual. This handbook will be implemented across all Provincial Self-Government Organizations to eradicate practices that cause unnecessary delays.

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