Urban expansion is wide not FAR
Although the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) in the Draft Revised Master Plan–2031 predicts that the city’s population will more than double in less than 15 years, it proposes expansion of the urban sprawl by just 80 sq.km. The inference from this is that Bengaluru will see vertical growth, with impetus from a more liberal Floor Area Ratio (FAR). However, the draft plan proposes the opposite, reducing the base FAR across the city.
While RMP–2015 allowed for FAR in the range of 1.75 to 3.25, the base FAR in the draft plan ranges from 1.5 to 2 — a significant reduction. That said, it does makes room for additional FAR through premium FAR or loading Transferable Development Rights (TDR), for which the maximum limit is 4.
Real estate experts and urban planners believe the reduction of base FAR is a manipulation of the market which will create a false market for premium FAR, which has to be bought from the government for a price. It will also do the same for TDR, which finds no takers among land losers today as the city has no profitable market for it.
“Other metros such as Mumbai and Hyderabad are on the reverse swing, increasing FAR to make real estate affordable. Reducing base FAR will only make real estate all the more unaffordable,” said Suresh Hari, vice-president of CREDAI–Bengaluru.
Unlike in RMP–2015, which had uniform FAR across the city, the Draft RMP–2031 has different norms for Zone A (area within Outer Ring Road) and Zone B (area outside ORR). The upper limit of FAR, even after loading premium FAR or TDR in Zone A, is 2.7 even for the widest of roads and plots, compared to 3.25 today. The much-awaited high-density zone of areas within a radius of 150 m from Metro stations, where FAR up to 4 will be allowed, has been restricted to Zone B.
The draft plan is trying to contain further densification and development in the core city. With redevelopment of properties in the core, it will witness a deceleration, encouraging more suburbanisation. Instead, the FAR norms for Zone B and Special Development Zones (SDZ) at the intersections of major arterial roads with the proposed Peripheral Ring Road are more liberal, indicating an intent to shift development activities to peripheral areas.
V. Ravichandar, member of the BBMP Restructuring Committee, said an attempt to control development in the core and push it to the peripheral areas that are not yet serviced by mass transit systems is unlikely to be implemented.
However, there are those who support decongesting the core city. N.S. Mukunda of the Citizens’ Action Forum said this was necessary to attain a balance. “But decreasing FAR from the existing levels will create a confusion that is not recommended,” he said, adding that the infrastructure in the outer zones was also not adequate.