Department of Town Planning and Housing
The Department of Town Planning and Housing is a government department under the Ministry of Interior. Its main scope of operation concerns urban and spatial planning. The Department is made up of three major Sections, those of Housing, Planning and Development Control.
The Housing Section undertakes the planning, design and management of public housing, at present almost exclusively serving refugees displaced by the 1974 Turkish invasion. The Development Control Section functions as the higher central Planning Authority of the country; it includes the Sectors of Plan Implementation and Planning Enforcement, and provides the administrative umbrella for five of the nation's nine independent Local Planning Authorities (District Offices). The Planning Section consists of various policy and project-oriented Sectors, such as those of Regional and Transportation Planning. The Department also includes the Sectors of Preservation and Planning Schemes, as well as supporting administration, while it provides personnel and advice to the Nicosia Master Plan, a bi-communal institution involving both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities of the divided capital.
The Planning System in Cyprus
A three-tier hierarchy of development plans is based on the concepts of the “Island Plan,” which refers to the national territory and the regional distribution of resources and development opportunities, the “Local Plan,” which refers to major urban areas or areas undergoing intensive development pressures and rapid changes, and the “Area Scheme,” at the lower end of the hierarchy. Area Schemes refer to areas of a smaller scale and are more detailed and specifically project oriented, gradually becoming indispensable tools for addressing sustainability issues and enabling the implementation of planning policy.
A set of regulations based on the Streets and Buildings Law, controlling setbacks, access, drainage etc., as well as uniform standards of construction, including earthquake and fire safety requirements, are commonly applied to all new development. Furthermore, in areas within Local Plans published under the Town and Country Planning Law, locally specific sets of provisions and guidelines govern a series of factors, including building height, volume and density, the subdivision of land, provision of public amenities, parking requirements, interventions in sensitive historic areas etc.