Panel recommends dropping FAR to save TDR

A review committee led by Dr A Ravindra has recommended major revisions to the city's Revised Master Plan 2015, with many changes proposed in critical zoning rules. Will the government accept?

The committee set up by the state government to review the zonal regulations in the Revised Master Plan (RMP- 2015), submitted their recommendations on October 15.

Three committees were originally set up – one to review Bengaluru’s building byelaws and two to examine the negative aspects of ZR. During the reviews it was felt that since the ZR anchor the building byelaws, it would be best if the review of these regulations were done first; then once the government decided on these recommendations, the building byelaws could be suitably amended as well.

The review committee that submitted its recommendations on zoning regulations is chaired by Dr A Ravindra, Advisor to Chief Minister on Urban Affairs. The draft regulations – pending government approval – restrict commercialisation in residential areas, reduce the permissible Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in construction, encourage integrated development of larger areas and attempt to tackle parking problems. Citizen Matters has a copy of the draft. Ravindra is a key member of the chief minister’s ABIDe task force.

Change over from residential to commercial

According to the draft regulations, land use cannot be changed in residential areas where road width is less than 12 metres. Though the current Comprehensive Development Plans (CDP) does permit ancillary use of property, that is, it allows 20 percent of the built-up area in residential plots to be used for commercial purposes, like using part of a house as an office/shop, the draft regulations have done away with it completely. This is intended to reduce commercial use of property in residential areas.

In cases where the plot size is greater than 4000 sq m, zoning will be commercial even in residential areas. However, it is assumed that such a case will be rare, as purely residential areas would not have free plots of this size. The rules also encourage amalgamation of two or more properties into one, to promote integrated development.

Changes have been made in the type of buildings permitted in different areas as well. The plot size and road width required for many categories of buildings – particularly for commercial buildings and public/semi-public utilities – have been revised upwards.

Additionally, the committee recommends that the government should impose taxes on vacant and under-utilised plots in less developed parts of the city. This is also expected to prevent speculation and rocketing of land prices.

Greater control through TDR

The draft rules also attempt to create a market for TDR (Transfer of Development Rights), which is used to acquire land during road widening. As the FAR allowed in the city is generally high, TDR does not have much value or market. The new rules aim to increase the demand for FAR by reducing the permitted FAR. In the current CDP, additional FAR is permitted in old areas of the city for further development. But the draft regulations do not differentiate FAR by zoning. Also, it recommends that TDR be used along roads with width more than 15m only, to prevent uncontrolled development.

Parking norms

Parking norms have been made more stringent – for most building categories the number of parking lots is required to be almost two times as it is now.  However, for pedestrian/high-congestion streets, parking norms have been slightly relaxed. This is aimed at discouraging the use of private vehicles in congested streets. There is recommendation for the government to develop a Parking Policy as well. Standalone multi level car parking has been permitted in residential areas.

Large apartment complexes and Integrated Townships

The minimum plot area required for building Residential Development Plans (RDP) and Integrated Townships (IT) has been brought down, but the extent of land to be relinquished in these huge constructions has also been increased. ITs have to relinquish 25 per cent of the area to BDA. Ten per cent built-up area in RDPs and 10% saleable area in private layouts should be reserved for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Low Income Groups (LIG).

The rules also recommend increasing the width of roads within layouts and providing one road from end-to-end of the property to enable public access.

The committee recommends development of pedestrian infrastructure and redevelopment of old areas in the city. It also recommends that a Municipal Personnel Policy should be developed to improve efficiency of municipal personnel, and a Municipal Areas Data Standards manual for maintaining data about physical and social infrastructure in the city should be created.

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