Saturday, 29 November 2014

Is FAR increase a good idea?

An increase in FAR and ground coverage means more dwelling units in the Capital, which will put pressure on civic amenities.

The recent decision of the urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu to enhance the ground coverage and Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in Delhi has evoked a mixed response from homeowners, builders, town planners and architects.

The gover nment has increased FAR in respect of plots of 750 square metre from 150% to 200% and for plots of 1000 sq m and above from 120% to 200%. While the ground coverage for plots of 750 sq m up to 1000 sq m will remain 50%, the same has been increased from 40% to 50% for plots of 1000 sq m and above.

According to Pradeep Mishra, CMD, Rudrabhishek Enterprises Pvt Ltd (REPL), an architectural and town planning consultancy firm, “The ministry of urban development needs to clarify the applicability of enhanced FAR and ground coverage. It’s not clear whether it’s applicable on group housing plots. As far as individual plot owners are concerned, enhanced FAR means more ground coverage because height restrictions stand at 17.5 metres for all individual houses subject to fire department clearances.”

“With the previous FAR, the owner of an 800 sq m plot could have covered 400 sq m of ground, with 1200 sq m as total built-up area. It means with 400 sq m ground coverage, he could have built just three floors to use up the 1,200 sq m (400 sq m multiplied by 3) FAR. Under the new provision, the same plot gets 400 sq m ground coverage, but 200% FAR, which means built-up area of 1600 sq m. This means four floors can now be constructed with 400 sq m ground coverage. However, in both cases, the height of the building will not exceed 17.5 metre with fire department clearance and 15 metre without clearance,” adds Mishra.

In case of plots of 1000 sq ft or above, the homeowner can cover 10% more ground area as the height restrictions of 17.5 m apply here as well. The new provision will definitely create more dwelling units on a plot bigger than 750 sq m.

Rohit Raj Modi, president, Credai NCR, says that this extra FAR will definitely help developers with extra space, “However, we need more clarification on the issue of change in density, number of dwelling units and height. We think that increase in FAR shall be effective if accompanied by increase in dwelling units, density and height.”

According to Anuj Puri, chairman and country head, JLL India, “Though no clarity has been given on an increase in the dwelling units allowed on the larger plots, there is a provision in the draft Delhi Master Plan 2021 which allows for an increase in the number of dwelling units. Under this provision, the cost of a concurrent augmentation of associated civic infrastructure has to be borne by the developer and paid to the authority. This provision in the draft master plan can be used to increase the number of dwelling units. If used judiciously, this provision in conjunction with the increased FAR can be utilised for increasing the housing stock on residential plots going forward.”

However, many experts on urbanisation and town planning say that the increase in FAR will yield little and damage more as it leads to more dwelling units, putting immense pressure on civic services in Delhi.

“The government should first think of providing adequate water, power, proper sewage system, parking etc in Delhi. Delhi is bursting at the seams and this time increasing FAR is a bad move,” says a senior civil engineer from East Delhi.

“Increase in FAR can create more dwelling units but at the same time it will put pressure on the existing infrastructure of the city. Delhi is already a very crowded place and civic amenities such as water, power, roads and transport are already under extreme pressure due to exploding population. Increase in FAR should be done after a proper impact assessment on the civic amenities,” says Mishra.

Source: HT Estates, Nov 29, 2014, Page 07

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