After facing flak for not marking more than 1,000 heritage structures in its development blueprint (DP) and stripping the heritage panel of its powers, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation will restore the heritage panel’s role in the revised plan, confirmed officials.
The special Development Control Regulations in the DP, which is undergoing a revision, had proposed to take away the authority to approve changes to Grade 1 and Grade 3 heritage structures from Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC), and place it with the municipal commissioner.
The move to do away with the committee’s prior approval was seen as an attempt to dilute restrictions on the development of heritage precincts.
“We are not aiming to undermine the mandate of the panel and there will be no such proposal in the revised development plan. The panel consists of historians and people with thorough knowledge of the city’s architecture. We are aware of the importance of the heritage structures. There is no point in taking away these powers from them,” said a senior official from the civic body.
If this change in the panel’s powers would have been passed, nearly 20,000 buildings would have been open for redevelopment without the MHCC’s nod.
Mumbai was the first city to adopt progressive heritage conservation norms in 1995, when section 67 of the Development Control Regulations was sanctioned.
In addition, the civic body has also confirmed that more than 70% of heritage structures, which were not marked earlier in the DP, will now be included in the list attached to the plan as reference.
After the DP came led to an uproar from activists and citizens for allotting high floor space index (FSI) and for wrong marking of the heritage structures in the city, earlier in April, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asked the BMC to revise the plan and publish it within four months.
=> Protests over original draft DP
Revised DP to be out by early 2016
* After its first draft of the development plan had citizens and activist groups up in arms, the BMC was asked to come up with a revised DP by the chief minister in April
* The BMC’s final date for submission of the draft plan is slated for August 23. However, it has sought an extension of another six months for it
* At present, officials are rectifying erroneously marked roads and reservations in the earlier DP, which will take time, they said
* One urban planner per ward has been recently assigned to conduct the exercise
* Of the 24 urban planners, nine are BMC employees from the civic town planning department and 15 were hired from All India Institute of Local Self-Government recently.
DP had missed out 100 SoBo heritage structures
* A study conducted by a member of the heritage conservation panel had revealed around 100 listed heritage buildings in A ward, which includes Colaba, Churchgate and Fort areas, were not marked by the BMC in the draft development plan released earlier this year
* The list missed out many iconic art deco, Indo Saracenic and Gothic architecture buildings, including the Prince of Wales Museum, GPO, St Thomas Cathedral in Fort, Old Governor’s House, buildings in Ballard Estate, and the police commissioner’s office
* Heritage panel members and other activists had flagged concerns that the proposed DP in its original shape would badly affect south Mumbai’s British era buildings and the iconic look of the area
* As many as 13 Grade 1 structures were not marked in the DP, according to a report by the heritage panel Grade 1 structures are those that are of national or historical importance.