The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) has proposed new guidelines, which could change the way in which the city’s heritage structures are regulated and monitored.
The panel has proposed that heritage precincts, or an ensemble of heritage buildings, be designated as special planning zones and customised planning be done to ensure that the heritage value of the area is conserved.
The committee has proposed that in addition to special tax breaks to these zones, there should be uniformity with the use of Floor Space Index in these zones.
For instance, an area like Fort in south Mumbai that comprises several heritage structures can be declared as a special heritage zone where specific measures could be taken for preserving such structures and encouraging the property owners to do so.
The commission has also proposed guidelines for stronger regulations and monitoring of heritage zones such as a new system to list out properties according to their present condition.
The heritage committee has proposed that conservation work be undertaken and its condition be constantly monitored.
Adopting a three-pronged approach, the MHCC has proposed strong regulations and constant monitoring, providing financial support for maintenance and also providing finances for one-time conservation and further maintenance.
If the heritage building has been maintained well, no municipal tax should be charged and also, its lease be renewed at the same rent.
MHCC chairman Dinesh Afzalpurkar said, “We have accepted the need for greater financial incentives and we have proposed these guidelines. We will be now writing to the state, which will then take a final decision on it.”
Afzalpurkar confirmed the new measures drawn up by the MHCC.
These measures include the proposed move to index transfer of development rights (TDR) that a heritage property gains from a property, equate it monetarily according to rates prevalent in the area and grant TDR based on that value.
The Hindustan Times had on May 11 reported how such a move was aimed at ensuring that the owner gets greater TDR from the property, thus making conservation more financially lucrative.
Conservationist and MHCC member Cyrus Guzder welcomed these initiatives.
“A state-appointed committee had recommended offering financial incentives to heritage property owners about 20 years ago,” Guzder said.
He said that such a step was long overdue to preserve the city’s heritage.
“Currently, the rate at which real estate is growing, it becomes disadvantageous to reside in a listed heritage structure and people want to knock it down and reap financial benefits. Such measures will definitely go a long way in ensuring that the city’s heritage is preserved,” the MHCC member added.