Minister Reins in Mumbai's Haphazard Development Controls; Will the City's Skyline Suffer?

The chief minister of the Indian state of Maharashtra (home to Mumbai) is pushing to rationalize the region's density controls, which had been prone to abuse by developers. Some fear the controls will result in more homogenous designs.

2 minute read

May 20, 2013, 12:00 PM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


Until recently in Mumbai, "[a]n ambiguous set of development control regulations allowed policy makers to grant additional square footage, or a higher floor-area ratio (FAR), for architectural elements such as balconies and flower beds," writes Aparna Piramal Raje. "Developers misused this provision to construct as much as 10 times more than their allotted square footage in some cases, according to Abhisheck Lodha, managing director of real estate developer Lodha group." 

However, Prithviraj Chavan, the chief minister of the state of Maharashtra (home to Mumbai), has proposed new policies that would "improve the rule of law in real estate development," by rationalizing FAR regulations. 

“A decision was made that definitely hurt all developers – including us in the short term – but in the long term has made this city’s planning permission process less opaque and hopefully at some point or the other will make it faster,” said Abhisheck Lodha, managing director of real estate developer Lodha group.

"Other developers such as Ashutosh Limaye, head of research at global realtor Jones Lang LaSalle’s India office, are more guarded, noting that the change in regulations has had unanticipated negative consequences, making buildings more formulaic," adds Raje.

“I love features such as flower beds, architectural projections, voids, ducts, a play of solid versus voids,” Limaye says. “Because the provisions were grossly misused, the government came down heavily on them and stopped them. But what it has done is made the elevations very dull now. The projects that got approved under the newer norms are like matchboxes.”

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