Are state level density norms an impediment to achieve Housing for All?

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Housing for All by 2022

While the central government is pushing for ‘Housing for All’, industry experts reveal that adequate supply of such homes cannot be accomplished unless state/city’s density norms are relaxed.

Under the ambitious ‘Housing for All’ scheme by the central government,, nearly 2 crore homes are expected to be constructed in urban areas by the year 2022. The scheme will be carried out through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. While the policies and clauses have been clearly defined, there still remains some impediments that need to be looked into. One of them is the varying ‘density norms’ of states and cities.

One of the clauses in Housing for All scheme highlights that states and cities can provide additional floor space index (FSI) or transferable development rights (TDR) to make projects financially viable while the other clause states that the minimum size of houses should conform to the standards provided in National Building Code (NBC). Anuj Puri, Chairman and Country Head, JLL India clarifies for a better understanding:

Total number of houses to be constructed: 20,000,000

Total area taken up by a house: 500 sq ft

Total area to be constructed= 20,000,000 X 500: 10,000,000,000 sq ft

Required land (assuming FSI of 4): 10,000,000,000/4= 2,500,000,000 sq ft (232.25 sq km)

For cities like Bangalore, Shrinivas Rao, CEO-APAC, Vestian says, “the density norms are not a hindrance to affordable housing. FSI achievable in Bangalore is as high as 3.25-4.0 depending upon the road width and proximity to metro stations. However, in cities like Gurgaon, where density norms are stringent (Maximum FSI is 1.75), it may be a roadblock to achieve affordable housing.” Here, the density norms need to be relaxed to avail affordable housing.

Shveta Jain, Managing Director, Residential Services, India, Cushman & Wakefield suggests, “In order to further push for affordable housing, especially in tier-I cities, individual state governments need to have a relook at their density norms and FSI rules since land is scare in most cities. The density is an important consideration as success of affordable housing lies in its scale of operations, as compared to other segments; thereby making it financially viable.”

While relaxing the density norms seems to be a viable option, it needs to be assured that the additional burden of population does not impact the social and physical infrastructure of the city or area. Jain says, “The respective municipal corporations and developers would need to ascertain whether the physical and social infrastructure in particular micro-markets would be able to withstand the pressure of additional population density. Parameters regarding the width of road, water and sewage facilities are of utmost importance, while doing location feasibility of projects.”

Nevertheless, major cities around the world have higher densities and yet are able to provide the pre-requisite social and physical infrastructure. Hence relaxing density norms, especially for EWS housing, can reduce urban sprawl. The only thing to include as pre-conditions while granting higher FSI and density norms are the above mentioned factors.


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