Arkın Group chairman Erbil Arkın gained the approval of hundreds when he voiced the desperation of thousands of residents at the proliferation of high-rise buildings in the town.
The head of the international leisure and hospitality chain which includes the Colony and Palm Beach hotels said: “Shame on us all. We f***ed up Kyrenia. We are all at fault, but especially our politicians and our greed.”
Mr Arkın joins Girne Mayor Nidai Güngördü, town planner Can Kara, the Chamber of Architects and Engineers, Construction Contractors’ Union, local MPs and a public protest group, the Girne Iniative, who have all called for controls to save the town.
İsmet Esenyel, undersecretary at the Tourism and Environment Ministry, indicated help was at hand, saying: “A team of five town planning and tourism experts will arrive from Turkey on [Wednesday] and the first stop will be Girne. I hope to speed up the completion of town planning regulations for all our towns.”
Mr Güngördü said: “My comments are still the same. The town infrastructure cannot support so much high-rise development and we need planning laws in place.”
He joined forces with Çatalköy Mayor Mehmet Hulusioğlu to begin a long-awaited Zoning and Construction Plan which was presented as a “Girne Vision” to 35 government departments and 45 civil society groups on February 9 for views and objections which are now being evaluated.
Mr Güngördü said: “A board composed of our two municipalities, the District Office and Town Planning Department will pass this by majority vote to become law after inclusion in the Official Gazette.”
The municipality sought the help of a professor and other planning experts to complete mapping and zoning over the past two years.
Long-time North Cyprus resident Rita Abdurrahman spoke for many expats when she commented: “I remember coming down the road to Kyrenia in 1980. There was a small cluster of homes around a harbour, not one high-rise and six cars constituted a traffic jam.
“What has happened to ‘cannot go above four floors’ laws? Brown envelopes spring to mind.”
Building heights were upped by the previous mayor, Sümer Aygın, who was linked to one of the first projects, Emtan Towers, in what is now an area of intense high-rise development.
One local resident said: “I live in a single storey house and they are knocking on my door every day offering me a new house if I sell up so that they can turn my house and garden into a 10-storey block.
“I am being surrounded by them anyway as my neighbours sell up, so what choice do I have?”