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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Maharashtra govt hikes commercial Floor Space Index in smaller cities

FSI is a tool that defines the extent of construction that is permissible on a plot. It is the ratio of the total built-up area to the total plot area.

Written by Sandeep Ashar, Sandeep A Ashar | Mumbai | December 5, 2020 9:19:30 am
floor space index, construction, real estate, hike, mumbai news, Uddhav ThackerayExpress File Photo/Used for representational purpose

Eyeing more real estate investments in Maharashtra’s emerging cities and towns, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government, on Friday, considerably hiked the bulk Floor Space Index (FSI) levels – known internationally as floor area ratio – for construction activities in these regions.

FSI is a tool that defines the extent of construction that is permissible on a plot. It is the ratio of the total built-up area to the total plot area.

To boost economic activity and expand the job market in urban neighbourhoods beyond the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), Maharashtra’s new unified development regulations offer an FSI up to five for any form of commercial development on plots situated in both residential and commercial zones within the municipal corporation limits.

With the exception of areas within Mumbai, and certain specially carved out “special planning areas”, the Unified Development Control and Promotion Regulation (UDCPR), notified by the state’s Urban Development Department on Friday, will be applicable across all municipal corporations, metropolitan areas and municipal councils.

An FSI of five means built-up areas up to five times the plot size. Currently, the average commercial FSI usage across Maharashtra is less than three. Further considering that the new regulations have allowed an “ancillary FSI” of 80 per cent construction over and above the admissible FSI upon payment of premiums, the actual build-able space for such commercial developments can be as high as nine times the plot area.

The ancillary FSI is a new concept introduced in the UDCPR to denote common areas such as lift, lobbies, staircases, flower beds, etc., which were earlier excluded from FSI computation. For residential construction, ancillary FSI of 60 per cent has been proposed.

While the building industry has welcomed the FSI hike, government town planners have questioned the move of the high FSI without indexing it to the availability of physical and social infrastructure.

On paper, the government has argued that this will encourage the construction of more “commercial business districts”, but its own town planners feel that the provision is bound to be misused. The government has also said that such developments will be permitted only on wider roads.

Incidentally, the regulations itself allow for “residential construction up to 30 per cent of the permissible FSI in such commercial projects.”

Questioning the move, a town planner said, “With the office rental market shrinking in the last few years, commercial developments in the financial capital have been switching to residential or mixed-use. The controversial provision was first introduced in Mumbai’s new development control regulations and has now been replicated for other areas.

The UDCPR also raises FSI up to five for various other special projects, including information technology and biotech parks across municipalities. However, high-rise developments outside the MMR, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik, Pimpri Chinchwad and other metropolitan areas will be restricted to a maximum height of 70 m or 33 floors, an official said. An FSI of three has been permitted for tourism and hospitality projects.

Linking the construction permissible on a plot and its height to the width of the adjoining road, the new rules allow for an FSI ranging from 1.5 to three for residential activities and up to 1.4 for industrial activities.

While the basic FSI for a plot in Mumbai is one (or 100 per cent of the net plot area), this has been hiked 1.1 for areas governed by the new UDCPR. Builders will also be eligible for additional FSI on paying 35 per cent of the plot’s ready reckoner rate as premium.

A more liberal FSI regime has also been adopted for affordable housing, slum redevelopment and cluster redevelopment projects. Like Mumbai, a 50 per cent incentive will be available to developers redeveloping old tenanted buildings and 30 per cent for non-tenanted ones.

The government has announced further three-seven per cent FSI incentives for “green” buildings. Ongoing projects will have the option of migrating fully to the new rules.

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