Pro­tec­tion zones and other strange mat­ters

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

All beaches of Cyprus have the so-called beach pro­tec­tion zone, a strip of ??about 300 feet (100m) from the water in which no con­struc­tion is al­lowed, not even pave­ments, or fence or even a per­gola. The own­er­ship of that area re­mains with the owner of the ad­ja­cent prop­erty, but he can not put up any­thing (un­less if an ex­cep­tion re­lax­ation per­mit has been ob­tained from the Cab­i­net, a time-con­sum­ing process of 2-3 years). I un­der­stand the need for this strip of land and I be­lieve that is ac­tu­ally use­ful to widen the pub­lic beach (only vis­ually, be­cause own­er­ship still is with the prop­erty owner). This zone is de­fined with great pre­ci­sion on lo­cal maps and the lo­cal author­i­ties or the town plan­ning depart­ment, have no say in any change.

How­ever, the ab­so­lute def­i­ni­tion of the strip cre­ates some sit­u­a­tions that should be de­scribed as at least odd. Let’s have a look at some of these cases:

- The beach is no longer as it was in 1970 when the zon­ing reg­u­la­tion was adopted. Thus, with the ero­sion of the sea shore, in some cases the beach pro­tec­tion zone is sit­u­ated within the sea, while in other cases due to an in­crease in the coastal front, the pro­tec­tion zone ex­ceeds 500 me­ters.

- A home which was built out­side the pro­tec­tion zone, on a pri­vate plot and at least 300 me­ters from the sea, is not al­lowed to have a per­gola in the un­cov­ered ter­race.

- In one case, the fenc­ing off is pro­hib­ited so the yard has ended up be­ing used for “beach par­ties” by oth­ers, ig­nor­ing the dan­gers posed to the ten­ants.

- A mo­bile con­struc­tion, based on plans sub­mit­ted to the com­pe­tent au­thor­ity for ac­cess over rocks to the sea was re­jected, thus de­priv­ing the pub­lic of the direct and safe ac­cess to the sea.

- Prop­er­ties within the pro­tec­tion zone can not be de­vel­oped, so they should be ex­pro­pri­ated by the state, or be al­lowed to de­velop them, which is what nor­mally with some form of re­lax­ation, be­cause the state has no money to pay mil­lions in com­pen­sa­tion. So, in one case the owner of a hol­i­day home out­side the pro­tec­tion zone who would have ex­pected to have un­ob­structed views to the sea, now has a build­ing block go­ing up in front of it with the bless­ing of the state that wants to re­duce the amount of com­pen­sa­tion it has to pay.

- The owner of home on two plots with a yard (in­clud­ing the pro­tec­tion zone), can not build a swim­ming pool, al­beit un­der­ground.

- In the case of a dead-end road, the owner was not al­lowed an ac­cess road or a park­ing space be­cause the zone and the lo­cal au­thor­ity in­sisted, for the con­struc­tion of a road within the prop­erty that lies out­side the pro­tected zone.

-A restau­rant owner was not al­lowed to place ta­bles al­lowed, shade tents, etc. within this zone, caus­ing the es­tab­lish­ment to fall out­side the beach area, un­like Greece where the op­po­site oc­curs

For this rea­son, I be­lieve that the com­pe­tent au­thor­ity should be al­lowed, with the ap­proval of the Plan­ning Dept., to al­low mod­i­fi­ca­tions or re­lax­ations of at least 30% of the pro­tected zone.

Also, the same pro­ce­dure should al­low the con­struc­tion of build­ings within the zone, if they do not cause any ob­struc­tion, such as a height, pave­ments, etc.

The lo­cal author­i­ties should also be able to is­sue per­mits for changes within the zone, when the build­ings within the zone do not op­er­ate prop­erly.

If we had been a state with end­less re­sources, per­haps this sit­u­a­tion would be ac­cept­able to a cer­tain ex­tent. But the ab­so­lute reg­u­la­tions of this zone are caus­ing se­ri­ous dam­age to the in­volved own­ers and thus forc­ing the state to com­pen­sate them or in ex­change of­fers re­lax­ations, it lim­its the rights of the prop­erty owner, and may not serve the pur­pose for which this zone ex­ists.

A re­view of the present sit­u­a­tion and the ex­is­tence of flex­i­bil­ity, will cer­tainly con­trib­ute to bet­ter growth and cut the non­sense within the con­struc­tion sec­tor caused be­cause of this rigid­ity.

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