Lutyens’ residents ask govt to allow redevelopment of homes
In 2015, the DUAC proposed changing building guidelines in LBZ, shrinking the tony area by 5 sq km to 23 sq km, and excluding eight neighbourhoods — Bengali Market, Golf Links, Sundar Nagar, parts of Jor Bagh, Mandir Marg, Chanakyapuri, Sardar Patel Marg and Panchsheel Marg.Updated: Aug 05, 2020 06:19 IST
With the Centre going ahead with its ambitious project to redevelop the Central Vista, residents of Babar Road, Sundar Nagar, Golf Links and five other residential neighbourhoods in Lutyens’ Delhi want the government to allow redevelopment in their areas as well.
They want the Centre to notify the Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone (LBZ) guidelines, prepared by the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) in 2015 so that they can avail higher Floor Area Ratio (FAR, a measure of the developed area that can be built on a plot of land) and redevelop their properties.
Also read: Lutyens’ Delhi waits for a development code
In 2015, the DUAC proposed changing building guidelines in LBZ, shrinking the tony area by 5 sq km to 23 sq km, and excluding eight neighbourhoods — Bengali Market, Golf Links, Sundar Nagar, parts of Jor Bagh, Mandir Marg, Chanakyapuri, Sardar Patel Marg and Panchsheel Marg.
This meant development in these colonies could happen as per the Master Plan of Delhi-2021 (MPD-2021) that allows FAR of up to 300 depending on plot size as compared to the older LBZ guidelines that restricted it at whatever is the current FAR of the plot.
As per the existing LBZ guidelines, a house owner is allowed the same FAR as the existing house. Due to this the FAR of each different plots in the same locality is different.
When asked why the guidelines were not accepted, a senior official with the Union housing and urban affairs ministry declined comment citing that the matter is subjudice. Residents of Babar Road, Panchsheel Marg and Golf Links filed cases in the Delhi High court in 2018 seeking quick implementation of the DUAC guidelines that recommend that these colonies be removed from LBZ.
Sabyasachi Das, former planning commissioner, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) said: “The plots in residential colonies such as Bengali Market, Sundar Nagar etc are not bungalow plots but routine residential plots. In some of these areas, some houses are developed as per the MPD-2021 norms. The guidelines should be reviewed.”
With the government planning to redevelop several of its office buildings in Lutyens’ Delhi as part of the Central vista redevelopment projects, residents say they should be allowed relaxations in the development-control norms. “For its own old office buildings in Lutyens’ Delhi, the Centre has brought notifications to redevelop or construct new high-rises. But when it comes to residents, they have a different stance. When the government can redevelop, why are we forced to follow LBZ norms?” asked Ved Jain, a resident of Babar Road (Bengali Market) who had earlier this year written to the Centre to allow redevelopment in their colony.
In Bengali Market, Jor Bagh , Sundar Nagar, and parts of Chanakyapuri several residents redeveloped their properties and constructed three- or four-storeyed buildings before 2003 . In some cases it was made possible by their temporary exclusion from the zone before 2003 (Bengali Market is one such). In others, the areas only came under LBZ in 2003 when the zone was expanded by around 3 sq km.
Of the 280 plots in Babar Road, 200-odd were redeveloped before 2003 . “There are just 70-80 houses that have not been redeveloped. But due to the existing LBZ norms, we can’t get a higher Floor Area Ratio. When the Centre can redevelop the entire Central Vista, which is of great heritage importance, why can’t we be allowed to redevelop our houses using higher FAR? Houses in our area can’t be called bungalows. We want the Centre to remove our colony from the LBZ list,” said YK Anand, president of Babar Road resident welfare association, who has filed a case in the Delhi high court against the government regarding LBZ guidelines.
Pointing to the anomaly in the norms, Radil Tuli, a resident of Panchsheel Marg in Chanakyapuri , said that of the 14 houses located on the road, seven have been developed as per MPD-2021 while rest have to follow LBZ norms.
In Jor Bagh, houses situated on the main road (Lodhi Road) fall under LBZ, while the remaining properties can be developed according to the master plan’s provisions.
Just a few kilometres away are Sundar Nagar and Golf Links , where several residents are unable to redevelop their properties.
“The size of families is growing and we need more space. Even though residents are divided over whether it should be in or out of LBZ, everyone wants a higher FAR. A decision in this regard should be taken soon,” said a resident of Golf Links, who didn’t wish to be named.
Indeed, many residents of Golf Links don’t entirely want to be excluded from LBZ, named after British architect Edwin Lutyens, simply because of the brand value attached to addresses in Lutyens’ Delhi. While all Golf Links residents want a higher FAR, a section of residents wants the government to allow this while keeping the area in the LBZ.
Sanjeev Desai, former vice-president and member of Sundar Nagar association, said, “Nearly 70% of properties are unable to redevelop due to lack of clarity on the matter. The central government is redeveloping Central Vista as it is looking into its future requirement for offices. Similarly, we should be out of LBZ in order to redevelop our houses for future generations. Under the present LBZ norms, most houses can’t redevelop as the current FAR is very less.”