Residents of Peyia have taken up arms against a number of major construction projects destined for the area, including two large hotels, citing a lack of infrastructure and arguing that development should slow down.
“Enough is enough. The character of Peya is completely lost,” local resident Marios Antoniades said in an interview.
“We have become so greedy, not caring about our countryside and beautiful natural areas, instead destroying them and building more and more ugly, empty buildings. We are already overdeveloped.”
Other residents stress that Peyia is already struggling to cope with its mushroom-like size, which increases significantly during the main summer holiday season, when thousands of people flock to the popular Coral Bay and surrounding areas for recreation.
“We can’t manage the way we are and we often have water or power outages. There is one coastal road back and forth, too much garbage and an increase in crime,” said an elderly resident of Cyprus.
Graham Angel moved to Peyia with his wife 19 years ago and said it’s like a different place now. When he chose Peya, it had more of a rustic vibe and he could see the green fields and hills from the balcony. It is now a small town with a permanent population of 12,000 to 15,000, according to official figures, and its appearance is mostly empty buildings. The constant development means that about 3,000 properties remain unoccupied, he said, adding that it makes no sense to build more hotels, as there are already many, and private development should also be slowed down.”It’s crazy to keep building when we have more than enough empty buildings.”
Projects to be launched include a new five-story hotel by real estate developer Carducci Estates Co Ltd., which has just been given the green light by the environmental department. The Hesperus Hotel is valued at €40 million and will include 324 luxury rooms, a restaurant, offices, lounges, spa, gym, two outdoor pools, community green space and parking. The total area of the building will be 29,720 square meters.
There are also planned large-scale developments on the hillside above the city, at Ayia Vouni (Sacred Mountain). The project is located on a steep slope and will include four-story apartment buildings with 145 apartments and 125 villas.
The municipality disputed the government’s decision to issue a building permit, saying it would cause irreversible environmental damage, put pressure on infrastructure and create new homes while leaving thousands empty. However, they lost the case, which they are now appealing.
The developer of the project is former President George Vassiliou, who purchased about 330,000 square meters of land in Peyia. The project, described as a sustainable development project and a near-zero energy settlement, receives funding from the EU as part of its zero energy initiative.
Peyia Council has previously expressed documented concerns about the development and asked the city planning department to refrain from approving any permits until all necessary studies have been completed and studied.
“They can’t start construction until we give them permission, and in the last majority vote, we refused,” Peya’s adviser Linda Leblanc said.
In addition, Leptos has plans to develop Plot1, better known as the Coral Bay car park, which offers great views of the beach and the Mediterranean Sea. The plans include the construction of 22 villas and services such as restaurants and cafes.
The blue flag beach attracts thousands of visitors every year. The municipality of Peyi is currently pursuing a legal case against the Council of Ministers for granting concessions to the developer, which it says is against the law.
“The developer has a long-standing desire to build here, and it is his right, but everything must be done correctly and to protect the environment of the area, which is extremely important for society and nature,” she said.
Leblanc takes issue with the argument that more hotels would be of greater benefit to society, as there are currently six or seven hotels that still owe hundreds of thousands of euros in living taxes, water bills and garbage collection fees. The constant development is also destroying the natural areas that are so popular with visitors, she said.
“Cheap flights fill hotels that are mostly all-inclusive. I think we need to do some research to see how much a community hotel costs. Are they viable and do they give anything in return?
While many residents have expressed concern about how things are going, others support further development. “We should be able to build what we want and have the right to make money. This is our land,” one man said.
However, Leblanc believes the way forward is to take a step back and reopen small family businesses such as taverns and small hotels. “I think people were a lot happier with the way things were in the hospitality industry before.”