Simplified Application Process for Low-Risk Developments in Cyprus – A Win for Real Estate

In a move that could significantly impact the real estate landscape in Cyprus, the Interior Ministry recently unveiled plans to streamline the application process for low-risk developments. These proposed changes, set to be implemented through amendments to existing legislation, aim to create a more efficient and flexible framework for obtaining planning permits, especially for small-scale developments. So, what does this mean for the real estate sector, and how might it influence future property investments on this Mediterranean island? 

The most noteworthy aspect of these upcoming changes is the abolition of planning permit applications for low-risk developments. These low-risk developments encompass various projects, from single houses to apartment buildings with a modest scale (typically 8-10 apartments). Instead of the traditional and often time-consuming process of applying for planning and building permits, architects and civil engineers will take on the responsibility of ensuring the accuracy and completeness of these studies. This significant shift aims to modernise the existing procedures, introducing a more agile licensing framework. As a result, the time required to review applications will be reduced, offering a more efficient and accessible service for the public within the realm of local governance. 

These groundbreaking changes didn’t materialise overnight. A meeting between Interior Minister Konstantinos Ioannou, ETEK President Constantinos Constanti, and a delegation laid the groundwork for these revisions. The Interior Minister requested a comprehensive plan from the town planning department, which includes a total of 22 measures to be implemented by July 1, 2024. One key aspect of this plan is the streamlining of the consultation process with relevant services, like the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), the fire service, the water board, and the public works department. These requirements will be incorporated at the submission stage, rather than during examination. This shift is expected to considerably expedite the licensing process, making it more user-friendly. 

To further reduce red tape and delays, the town planning department will introduce the “Ippodamos” integrated information system. This digital system will be mandatory for all local authorities starting from 1st July. It enables the exclusive digital submission of applications for all types of developments, a move expected to accelerate the application examination schedules. 

Furthermore, a working group has been initiated to create a manual for the implementation of common forms and procedures for examining urban planning applications across all local authorities. The goal is to ensure uniformity and eliminate time-consuming bureaucratic procedures that often cause delays in decision issuance. 

Lastly, the Interior Ministry and ETEK (Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber) are developing a training plan for both ETEK members and incoming staff who will bolster local government departments. The objective is to educate and prepare them for the proper submission and examination of applications, aiming to eliminate decision delays due to incomplete submissions. 

So, how will these legislative changes affect the real estate sector in Cyprus? The simplification of procedures and the introduction of digital submission processes will likely make the application process smoother and faster. This can potentially boost investor and developer confidence in the Cyprus property market, making it a more attractive destination for real estate ventures. Easier and quicker licensing procedures could result in shorter project timelines, potentially reducing overall development costs. 

The proposed changes in Cyprus’s legislation represent a significant step towards modernising the property development process, ensuring efficiency, and potentially attracting more investment in the real estate sector. As the bill progresses through the legal review process and discussions in the House interior committee, the real estate industry in Cyprus stands at the threshold of a new era of simplified development processes, potentially opening doors to a brighter and more dynamic real estate market. 

Source: Cyprus Property News 

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