Applications for the Refurbishment and Development of Student Residences and Rooms Grant Scheme under the Nicosia Old City Revitalization Action Plan were announced on Monday at a joint press conference by Nicosia Mayor Konstantinos Yorkajis, Minister Nikos Nouris and Finance Minister Konstantinos Petrides, in the presence of the Cypriot Scientific -Technical Chamber, Planning Council and Association of Friends of Nicosia.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, the project is included in the Cyprus Recovery and Resilience Plan for the period 2021-2026 and will have as its main source of funding the European Union Recovery and Resilience Mechanism, the central instrument of NextGenerationEU. The Department of Urban Development and Housing is responsible for the management and implementation of the Plan, and the total budget allocated for grants during the period of the Plan is 15 million euros, applications must be submitted from May 2 to November 1, 2022.
Speaking at the announcement of the Plan, the Mayor of Nicosia said that never before had so much been done in the old city, and everywhere that comprehensive activities were carried out, the results were positive.
“We understand that there is still a lot to be done. This project is designed to bring us one step closer to a permanent and high-quality revival of the walled city,” he added.
For his part, the interior minister said that the plan to build student housing in the walled city of Nicosia is accompanied by a number of other actions that are already underway and will be completed in the coming weeks.
“At the same time as the student residence project, a business plan will be launched to support entrepreneurs who want to invest,” Nouris said, adding that, recognizing the city’s need for additional housing units, “the Interior Ministry has decided to extend the implementation of the housing plan that we are implementing in the countryside and in the old city in order to give this opportunity as well.”
In addition, the interior minister referred to a new urban planning and financial incentive plan that will be implemented from next month and will be available to those who decide to invest in the walled city of Nicosia.
In his speech, the Minister of Finance emphasized that Nicosia is and should be a young city where cultural activities coexist with academia and students, adding that “old Nicosia, the only divided capital in Europe, cannot be excluded from these efforts.”
“The government has a proven track record of providing support where needed, and we believe that in a few years what started as a vision and turned into policy will become a reality for a city that many will envy,” he added.
Asked by journalists if the government shares the fears of the residents about the transformation of the old Nicosia into a ghetto, Nouris replied that while the situation is clearly worrying, “there is no better answer than today’s announcement, because the fact that a holistic intervention is suddenly starting is done to revitalize buildings that are now considered either aging or uninhabitable. I think this is a very good step towards the liberation of Nicosia from the ghetto and the reintegration of people who consciously decided, because of the existing problems, to distance themselves from the old city, while the revival will also be a step forward for better migration management.”
The mayor of Nicosia commented that “the goal is to increase the number of interventions to achieve progress and rebirth”, and on security issues, he added that the walled city has its own police station at the Ledra checkpoint, and in recent years the number daily patrols increased significantly.
Finally, the finance minister said that this danger did exist in Nicosia “primarily because of the Green Line, because of the large amount of abandoned Turkish Cypriot property, but also because of the problem of migration, so a holistic revival plan would be for the benefit of the migrants themselves, but it would also give a sense of security to the local population.”