Preserving the iconic character of Lutyens bungalow zone KEY POINTS OF DUAC’S PLAN
DUAC has proposed keeping the LBZ boundary close to the original plan while removing commercialised areas
The most i mpor t ant question in the context of the urban design of iconic cityscapes across the world is whether development or preservation is in greater public interest. Most successful instances of urban design and planning seek to create a city that is people oriented, aesthetically appealing as well as functional through the continued development of the built environment.
With special attention to urban design, over the years, New Delhi’s Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ) has also been contributing to the livability and character of the Capital city and its immediate neighbourhoods. Meanwhile, with the rising requirement for housing for an expanding population base, since the Capital attracts a migrant population seeking employment opportunities almost on a daily basis, there have been growing concerns over altering existing land use plans and increasing the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in various parts of Delhi, including the LBZ.
With the goal of preserving the original character of the LBZ, therefore, the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) has recently proposed keeping the LBZ boundary close to the original plan of Edwin Lutyens in 1912, while removing the transformed/commercialised areas that do not bear any semblance to the character of this iconic area. Urban design policies typically combine aspects of architecture, l andscape design, public works, and art by complementing them with policies on environment, housing, land use, parks and open space, and transportation elements. DUAC’s latest proposal plans to retain LBZ’s characteristic green areas that were included in 1988. Accordingly, the proposal submitted to the ministry of urban development plans to exclude areas such as Jor Bagh, Golf Links, Bengali Market, Panchsheel Marg, and Chanakyapuri, among others, from the LBZ.
The new plan proposes to reduce the core area by about 5 sq km to stand at about 24 sq km. In line with preserving the green cover of the area, the premises of the Supreme Court, which had been deleted from the LBZ in 2003, will be reintroduced if the latest proposal The proposal submitted to the ministry of urban development plans to exclude areas such as Jor Bagh, Golf Links, Bengali Market, Panchsheel Marg, and Chanakyapuri, among others, from the LBZ The core area will be reduced by about 5 sq km to stand at about 24 sq km The newly proposed development control norms for resi- is accepted. While the existing design guidelines for LBZ do not provide for any specific FAR or ground coverage for bungalows in the area, the newly proposed development control norms for residential bungalows call for a FAR of 20 with 12.50% ground coverage. Setback norms will depend on plot sizes; and building height will be restricted to 12 m with the number of dwelling units not to exceed four, again depending on the size of the plot. Although there are provisions for basements in the proposal, these are to be used just for household storage and car parking. This point has been included in a bid to preserve the essential residential character of the neighbourhood, by discouraging commercial use. The restriction on the number of dwelling units per plot size will also effectively sustainin the housing density in the area.rea. dential bungalows propose a FAR of 20 with 12.50% ground coverage Setback norms will depend on plot sizes; and building height will be restricted to 12 m with the number of dwelling units not to exceed four, depending upon the size of the plot Characteristic green areas included in 1988 are to be retained
In terms of building height, a total of seven floors, including the ground floor, are to be allowed. Overall building height is not to exceed more than 32 m, however, with up to a three-level basement for parking, which will not be included in FAR. For developing or re-developing plots for non-residential purposes, the norms of the Delhi Master Plan 2021 will be applicable, as well as the Delhi Building Bye-laws, 1983.
It is unlikely that the heritage status of LBZ will be impacted by this new proposal, since all the main monuments and landmarks will continue to be included within the core LBZ, and it is merely the peripheral edges of the area that are proposed to be re-designed. A balance would, therefore, be struck between protecting the heritage status of the Capital and the availability of devel-devel- opable space in central Delhi.
If this proposal from the DUAC is accepted by the PMO, it will fall in line with the larger urban development endeavours of the Delhi Master Plan, which is to allow for expansions over the next 20 years to accommodate the growing population and infrastructure needs of the Capital. So far all expansions have been restricted along the outskirts of the city, because of the lack of available land in the core area. In case the proposal is accepted, more developable land will become available in the coveted central district, leading to escalated real estate and housing construction activity in the region. This upturn i n real estate activity will include the growth of housing development in the localities of Jor Bagh, Golf Links, Sunder Nagar, Bengali Market, Ashoka Road, Mandir Marg, Panchsheel Marg, Sardar Patel Marg and Chanakyapuri. This real estate and construction activity, in turn, will lead to the addition of residential units in the city.
If the proposal is accepted, a marginal price rise may be expected. Although, the region already commands one of the most expensive property prices in the country, high demand, large plot sizes and prevailing land prices in central Delhi are likely to increase price points.
If DUAC’s proposal is accepted, a marginal price rise may be expected in the area that is home to some of the most expensive properties in the country