NEWS

Island construction given the green light as Aegean planning law to be amended

YPEHODE, the Ministry of the Environment, Planning and Public Works, is seeking a solution to the building freeze on the islands of the Aegean, not with the aim of providing better protection for the environment, but mainly to remedy the bottlenecks created by provisions issued for Tinos, where even permits that had already been granted (but not yet carried through) are subject to revision on the basis of new, more stringent criteria. YPEHODE Minister Vasso Papandreou’s promise at the end of June during her tour of the Cyclades, that «changes arising from special planning studies for the Cycladic islands will not be retroactively applied,» will effectively lead to the easing of restrictions on building permits on the Cycladic islands. Go-ahead given According to sources, YPEHODE is expected to table an amendment in Parliament this summer which will allow for all building permits that were issued or submitted before the date of entry into force of the new decrees to be implemented. In effect, this means unfreezing the building permits and the beginning of construction. The amendment will protect the State from court actions by owners affected by the law seeking compensation from a sorely depleted budget. At the same time, islands are being urged to hold off issuing fresh building permits until the relevant planning studies are completed. Under no circumstances, however, can this freeze exceed two years, and naturally it does not apply to buildings under construction. The same sources, however, as was reported by the media, insist that YPEHODE will proceed with the lifting of other restrictions which were also imposed by the Tinos decree. Specifically, it appears that the ban on building on land plots outside town plans with a gradient greater than 35 percent will be lifted. As alternatives, one-story buildings will be allowed, or basements (which often are anything but) will be counted as part of a house’s total permitted area. Conditions Under some conditions, even buildings with a public-street facade less than 10 meters long can be built on plots of land whatever their size, going by YPEHODE’s decision on Sifnos. But the amendment will retain the basic principles arising from the general planning code or current practice. Thus building permits will not be issued for plots of land outside town plans that are smaller than 0.4 hectares. But it seems that the ban on building within 100 meters of the shore will stay in place (with the known exceptions, of course).