Region: Paros
Construction

Emergency alert: Save our island's identity from irreversible overbuilding

Petition is directed to
The Mayor of Paros Mr. Konstantinos Bizas, the Municipal Council of the Municipality of Paros, the Town Planning Department of Paros, the Ministry of Physical Planning and Environment, Members of the Cycladic Parliament
1,706 supporters
85% achieved 2,000 for collection target
1,706 supporters
85% achieved 2,000 for collection target
  1. Launched 20/06/2024
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Protect the identity of our island from anarchic overbuilding.

Overdevelopment is widely recognised by all academic and environmental bodies as the main threat to natural resources and the preservation of the Cycladic landscape. The main peak of overbuilding is uncontrolled off-plan construction, which, in overwhelming proportions, involves luxurious and environmentally unsustainable holiday homes.

The damage to the countryside is already enormous. Very soon, we will be at the point of no return. Now, more than ever, we must act to halt overbuilding until the new Local Spatial Plan is in place.

This resolution proposes the mildest possible formula so that Paros has a chance to exist as a place tomorrow. We call for the temporary suspension of the issuing of new building permits through the application of the jurisdiction of the Council of State, which sets specific and strict conditions for off-plan building. At the same time, we call for the exemption of building permits for first homes.
It is urgent and crucial to understand that extending 'business as usual' is no longer an option. If the current rate of building is maintained, in a matter of years, the situation will be so irreparably distressed that the implementation of the new Local Plan will no longer be of any value: there will be nothing left to save.

This is a call to action that we cannot ignore.

Specifically, we ask:
Α. That the Municipal Council decides that the Town Planning Department of Paros, will apply the judgement of the Council of State, which from 2023 recalls that "Off-plan building in Greece has been prohibited since 1985, with the sole exception of parcels of land that have 25 meters of frontage on a legally existing road". This decision stresses that rural or forest roads cannot be understood as legally recognized roads and that the (pre-1923) old paths - are protected by the existing General Urban Plan.

Β. To request the Ministry to suspend the issuance of new permits in off-plan areas until the new Local Urban Plan of Paros is established. With the exception of building permits for primary residences and public utility buildings.

C. Demand the inactivation of the law on underground buildings on Paros. They are not in keeping with the island's architectural tradition and cause enormous destruction. Also, close any window for the construction of swimming pools on the island (currently built as "water features") and provide incentives for the construction of water tanks for rainwater storage.

D. Staff the necessary City departments to conduct systematic inspections of construction activity on the island, not only before, but also after building and electrical permits are issued.

E. Not to allow any Private Urban Plan (of the type of ESHASE- Special Spatial Development Plans for Strategic Investments), "complex tourist accommodation" or other).

We also ask all the bodies responsible for the Cyclades, the local authorities and civil society to support this decision. What is happening in Paros has and will have consequences for the rest of the Cycladic islands. If Paros resists the alteration of its physiognomy and its unique Cycladic identity, it will set an excellent example for the rest of the islands. If not, the uncontrolled and destructive dynamics will rapidly spread to the rest of the Cycladic islands, large and small.

Reason

Paros, after twenty years of uncontrolled growth, is facing various deadlocks: great difficulties in waste management, threats to biodiversity and to the quality of life of the inhabitants, traffic problems, especially in the summer months, intense concern about the adequacy of water and the resilience of the island in the face of the dangers of the climate crisis.

Growing imbalances burden both the social cohesion and productive life of the island. The consequences are already being felt: Overcrowding in the summer alternating with desolation in the winter, a burden on the daily life of the inhabitants, but also the predominance of large (usually 'foreign') interests and their choices over small, family businesses and the needs of Parian society. Along with the Parian land, the Parisians' right to have a say in their own land is ultimately 'sold'.
Unrestrained residential development, particularly in off-plan areas, threatens agricultural land and makes it increasingly difficult to support the primary production necessary for the resilience, balance and preservation of the identity of our island, of which it is an integral part. It also permanently and profoundly alters the Parian landscape, depriving our island of precisely this natural dowry which has been preserved for millennia and has acted as a lever for tourism development.

This kind of "development" on our island must stop. And it must stop immediately because, at the current rate, in no more than a short time, the primaeval Parian landscape will have been altered to such an extent that any hope for rational and sustainable continuation will have been lost.

Paros can still choose another path for its future. It can be directed to another kind of development, based on soft tourism, i.e. small-scale tourism that ensures that the profitability from it is directed to the local communities and not to those who come to the island only to earn and leave, without regard to the needs of the local community. But if we are to have any hope of moving in this direction, the first and crucial step is to curb the building activity that is causing permanent and irreversible alteration of our place and condemning the island to a destructive one-way street.

The General Urban Plan of Paros, established in 2012 and including important protective provisions for the island, was unfortunately never implemented in all its aspects. Things have developed extremely badly over the last decade, pushing the island to the edge of the cliff. The forthcoming Local Planning Scheme will not be in place for several more years.

But in the meantime, building permits are being issued every day, while the number of houses on the island has already more than doubled in the last thirty years and if we include the volume of new buildings, the numbers are staggering: In 2019, 33,000 sqm were built on Paros, in 2023 66,000 sqm were built, and the rate of issuing building permits is constantly increasing. When, in three or four years, we have the new Local Urban Plan, things for Paros will already be decided. We believe that this situation must be stopped because it is causing irreversible damage to our island, depriving Paros forever of the special and sensitive characteristics of its island physiognomy, and it must be stopped immediately.
We ask the Municipal Council of Paros to take action as soon as possible for the drastic restriction of off-plan building, by taking measures to stop it.
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Πρέπει να υπάρχει περιορισμένος αριθμός αδειών και για Πάρο -Αντιπαρο γιατί ήδη υπάρχει πρόβλημα με τα απορρίμματα. Επιπλέον είναι πιο επιβαρυμένο το κυκλοφοριακό. Επιπλέον κατασκευάζονται υποσκαφα σπίτια καταστρέφεται το φυσικό περιβάλλον.

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Why people sign

I have known these islands for many years and the I can see the extreme damage that the acceleration in building ihat has taken place over the last 4 years s doing to them. If we dont take action to manage this much more carefully, with the construction of the new airport the character, beauty and ecosystem of the islands will be irreparably damaged and eventually lost and there will be nothing left for either the locals or the tourists.

Paros is a lovely island - having holidayed there and had a marvellous time, it would be damaging for the island’s culture and long term economy if uncontrolled growth was permitted. In the same way that Barcelona and Amsterdam are restricting tourism, Paros should be in a position to do the same for the long term benefits of the local Paros population and for the island itself.

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