Affordable housing is not a new issue for the capital city. While it boasts exclusive high-end projects, peppered throughout the city, affordable housing has long been an issue. The situation could be on the verge of changing, however, because of news that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) maybe loosening up its building bylaws.
Developers working on private housing schemes have in the past found themselves in trouble because they have not been able to comply with the rules set out in the CDA bylaws, and consequently not been able to score an NOC. With some of these proposed amendments in the building bylaws, many housing societies located within the CDA’s jurisdiction can now hope to gain legal status, as per the definition set by the authority.
It is pertinent to note that even though the bylaws are being relaxed, the CDA is still not budging on provisions of certain facilities a developer is mandated to include into their project. These include a masjid, public parks, green areas, educational and health facilities, graveyard, and community centre or areas marked for these facilities.
According to the CDA’s official website, there are over 100 banned societies in Islamabad. It is common knowledge that without CDA’s approval, electricity, gas and water connections become impossible to secure. Furthermore, a project that doesn’t have the necessary approvals is often not one that interests genuine buyers.
Despite this, many people have not only invested in these societies but also put up money to build their own homes. CDA’s decision been taken in light of the growing number of private housing societies that have failed to abide by the rules laid out by the authority, despite several warnings issued to them.
What’s obvious is that some developers are simply not able to follow all the bylaws, even if they want to, because of space issues. For instance, land in Islamabad is expensive, and not all developers can afford to offer wide streets and bigger parks in their projects. The fact that the CDA is willing to meet the developers halfway is encouraging.
In a suggestion prepared by the CDA, it was recommended that developers of private housing societies purchase additional land to provide a graveyard in their project. Moreover, societies that are located close to each other can collaborate to set up a combined graveyard. This particular suggestion is a good one, as developers of many projects that offer property on cheaper rates often do not have enough space available to dedicate to such facilities.
The most common problem that the CDA has noticed is that many real estate developers do not get the layout plan of their societies approved. It has also been noticed that the societies’ management misuses land meant for parks, graveyards, and community centres. Furthermore, the width of lanes, streets and main boulevards often does not comply with the standards set out by the CDA. The authority has also said that plot sizes in private housing societies are also at times smaller than the standard size.
According to the new amendments suggested by the authority, the CDA can now penalise the developer breaching the building bylaws with a fine of PKR 5,000,000. It is a common practice that real estate developers give some plots to the respective development authority as collateral; however, according to the new suggestions awaiting the final approval, the societies will be bound to not sell or transfer these plots to anyone else.
The news report has also revealed that the building bylaws are not being followed in some public and state owned buildings as well. The CDA has made some suggestions for these buildings i.e. public and state owned buildings will leaving open spaces. I am yet to find out how the CDA will deal with buildings and projects where open spaces are not available.
With these provisions, some elements relating to affordable housing will be taken care of. The city still has a long way to go before it truly provides budget options, however.
Let us wait and see how soon after introducing these amendments in the building bylaws, the CDA grants approval to these housing societies.
What do you think about this move? Let me know in the comments section below.