If a building surrenders a portion of its plot for road widening reservation and then decides to go for redevelopment, the builder will need to pay just 25% of the premium levied by the BMC for not leaving mandatory open space around the new structure. This is a major relief for developers, and also occupants of such buildings in dire need of redevelopment.
It is obligatory for builders to leave a third of a building’s height as open space around it, one of the reasons being the availability of light and ventilation. If the BMC takes away a portion of an existing building’s plot for, say, road widening, redevelopment of the building becomes difficult as for constructing a new building in its place, a builder would have to follow the BMC’s open space norms.
Builders take up redevelopment work only if they are able to develop an adequate number of flats for selling after the existing building’s occupants are accommodated. This implies the new building must be taller than the existing one. But in a narrowed plot, this is almost impossible to do without paying a hefty penalty (which on Friday was reduced by the BMC) for ‘open space deficiency concession’ as the open space requirement grows in tandem with height, until it reaches 65ft around the structure. The municipal commissioner has the discretionary power to grant the concession.
A civic engineer said that last year, the state government issued a TDR policy, making it mandatory to convert all 20ft roads into 30ft roads across Mumbai. For this, the BMC would need portions of plots of existing buildings. The BMC realized that unless it offered a concession on the open space premium, not many housing societies would come forward to allow road widening. Thus, certain stretches of a road can be widened, but not others, creating traffic bottlenecks—a situation not new to Mumbai.
A BMC official said the new policy will result in the BMC losing substantial revenue, but it is worth it to ensure the smooth dispersal of vehicular traffic.
“The BMC’s decision is a big relief for builders and landowners to develop small plots,” said senior architect Shirish Sukhatme of the Practicing Engineers, Architects and Town Planners Association (PEATA). “No one comes forward to develop such plots because of the requirement to pay very high premiums for open space deficiencies. Many people in the past have even approached courts for relief, in vain. It’s a welcome step that developing small roadside plots will now be possible.”
He said the scope of the benefit should be widened to include all kinds of plots and not just the ones to be affected by road widening. He also said that people who have already surrendered portions of their plots too should get the benefit of the new policy.