With the new Combined Development Regulation and Building Rules envisaging more benefits to the middle and lower income groups coming into effect in the State, the major cities are set to get more residential units within the city limits, which may result in concentrating population.
The rules that were released by the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department on February 4 have modified the definition of non-high rise buildings. As per the rules, buildings extending below 18.3 metres or five floors would be considered as non-high rise buildings. Earlier, buildings below 17 metres were only considered as non-high rise buildings.
“The combined rules have given more advantages to the non-high rise buildings by relaxing the height of the buildings and permitting more dwelling units. Earlier, only four dwellings were allowed on the roads with less than 6m width. Up to eight dwelling units can be allowed on the narrower roads as per the new rules,” S Sridharan, vice-president of CREDAI Chennai, said.
Moreover, the new rules allow 12 dwelling units on the roads between 6 metres to 9 metres without exceeding the height of 18.3 metres. For roads exceeding 9 metres, there is no restriction on the number of dwelling units, however, the height should be maintained at 18.3 metres.
When asked about the benefits that the new combined rules would deliver to the middle and lower income groups, Sridharan said that the it would bring more non-high rise buildings in the core city and people need not look in the outskirts to own a house.
The Combined Building Rules have also redefined the categories of buildings, based on which parameters are fixed. From now on, the State would have only non-high rise buildings and high-rise buildings instead of ordinary buildings, special buildings and multi-storied buildings.
Sridharan also opined that the combined rules have failed to provide any concession to the high-rise buildings except for the relaxation in the Floor Space Index (FSI).
Town planners opine that allowing more dwelling units in the city would result in a surge in population density. “The city is already grappling with poor infrastructure such as lack of proper roads and lights apart from frequent traffic snarls. Increase in population density would further worsen the situation,” KM Sadhanandh, president, Association of Professional Town Planners, said.
SPECIFIES PARKING SPACE
The Combined Building Rules, apart from defining setback areas, open space resources and floor space index, have mandated the parking spaces for residential and commercial buildings.
As per the combined rules, residential buildings located in urban local bodies and having the floor area between 25 sqm and 50 sqm should have space for one two-wheeler and buildings with floor area between 50 sqm and 70 sqm should have 1 car space for every two dwelling units and 1 two-wheeler space for every dwelling unit. For buildings exceeding 75 sqm floor area, 1 car space for every 75 sqm should be provided.
Residential buildings located in panchayats and having the floor area between 50 sqm and 75 sqm should have space for one two-wheeler and buildings with floor area between 75 sqm and 100 sqm should have one car space for every two dwelling units and one two-wheeler space for every dwelling unit. For the building exceeding 100 sqm of floor area, 1 car space for every 100 sqm should be provided.
Residential buildings below 25 sqm in urban local bodies and 50 sqm in rural panchayats have been excluded from having parking spaces.
Commercial buildings having floor area up to 50 sqm in cities and 75 sqm in villages have been excluded from having parking space. While one car space and one two-wheeler space for every 50 sqm should be provided at the commercial buildings above 50 sqm floor area in cities. One car space and one two-wheeler space for every 75 sqm should be provided at the commercial buildings above 75 sqm floor area in cities.
RAINWATER HARVESTING MANDATORY
The builders have to assess the water absorption capacity of the soil, duration of rain fall and other parameters while planning the buildings as the rules have mandated harvesting rainwater.
“Stormwater drainage system in a site shall be designed in such a way to harvest cent percent of it to recharge ground water table. The design factors of rain water harvesting structures within a site shall include type of soil and its absorption capacity, ground slope, intensity and duration of rain fall for the design period,” the rules stated.
Also, reuse of waste water and tapping of solar energy are mandated. However, the rules have allowed the provision for carrying any excess stormwater, which was not absorbed during an exceptional rain fall, to drain or discharge into the street or public stormwater drainage system.
Town planners feel aggrieved
Despite welcoming the Combined Building Rules, professional town planners feel aggrieved as the new combined rules have allowed civil engineers to plan layouts. “For the first time, the role of town planners has been recognised. However, the government has allowed engineers and architects to prepare layout plans, which is not their expertise,” KM Sadhanandh, president, Association of Professional Town Planners, said. He also raised concerns that the government, even though it had claimed that it had incorporated clauses of National Building Code, 2016 and Model Building Bylaws, 2016, had failed to follow all the Central government guidelines. “Even procedural-wise, the new rules don’t explain about the single window system. Planning agencies such as local bodies, DTCP and CMDA have an individual online system. The government should integrate them,” he added. Pointing out to the non-availability of land within the city limits, Sadhanandh said that relaxed floor space index could not be fully utilised in the city. “If a builder demolishes a building with 10 dwelling units in the city to utilise FSI to construct 14 dwelling units, the end result will be the increase of four dwelling units only. So, the government should identify lands where 14 new dwelling units can be built.”
Activists oppose construction in aquifer recharge areas
While the government has allowed the regulated developments in ecologically sensitive aquifer recharge areas under the new rules, the activists oppose the move saying that it would affect the groundwater recharge. Buildings and concrete pavements on the aquifer recharge areas would prevent water entering ground, said Sekhar Raghavan, Director, Rain Centre. “Whether it is government buildings or private ones, water percolation will be affected,” he said. S Janakarajan, former professor of Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), said that all type of developments should be banned on the land demarcated as aquifer recharge area. “Already decrease in the ground water level has led to the intrusion of sea water. If ground water recharge affected, the ground water would become more saline,” he said. Janakarajan added the decision of the government should be challenged in the court. “Government should follow what it preaches. Allowing government buildings on the aquifer recharge will affect the sensitive areas. The government, at least, should leave 25 per cent of the plot as unpaved area, which is a common rule for construction in the area,” Sekhar Raghavan added. The combined rules have allowed developments such as non-high rise buildings up to 9m height, working women hostels, service apartments, cottage industries (number of workers not exceeding 8 and electric machineries not exceeding 5HP), nursery schools, primary schools not exceeding 300 sqm, libraries, post offices, local body offices not exceeding 300 sqm, government, semi-government offices and religious buildings.
- The Combined Building Rules are applicable to the entire state except hill areas.
- Authorities will inspect the site before issuing planning permit or building permit or completion certificate.
- For non-high rise buildings above 12m in height, inspections will be made after the completion of plinth and last storey to check deviation.
- No building permission is necessary for alterations, which do not violate any provisions regarding general building requirements, structural stability and fire safety requirements.
- To demolish a building either in whole or in part, applications should be submitted to local bodies.
- Staircase, lift rooms, passage, floors used for parking, watchman booth and other spaces can be excluded from FSI and coverage computation.
- Provision has been made to notify areas such as Continuous Building Area (CBA), Economically Weaker Section (EWS) Area, Transit Oriented Development Area.
- Completion certificate is mandatory for all residential buildings upto 12m height, not exceeding 3 dwelling units or 750 sqm floor area and all industrial buildings.